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Engraved 2>y 'Enulif Ssrta/'.'i . ."•%//" 







VOL. I. 


Nasfjbtlle, Cenn.: 


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by 


n the District Court of the United States for the Middle District of Tennessee. 




My Dear Mother: — I wish to dedicate to you this 
volume as a token of more than filial love. To you, in a 
great measure, I am indebted for early religious impressions ; 
especially to your blameless life and beautiful example do I 
owe my first conceptions of the excellence of virtue and the 
bliss of connubial life. Being your first-born, I had the op- 
portunity of witnessing a long life of affection between you 
and my now sainted father, whose memory to me is like pre- 
cious ointment ; and it affords me pleasure to record, now 
that you are four-score and four, that I have no remembrance 
of an unkind expression between my revered parents, but, on 
the contrary, words and acts of mutual respect and genuine 

We were not born in the Methodist Church, but in an- 
other branch of the great family of Christ ; yet through the 
instrumentality of the Methodists we were brought to a 
knowledge of sin and led to Jesus, who gave us repentance 
and remission. It was a happy day when you and my 
father and your eldest son all together united with the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church. Since tfrat, you have lived to see 



your husband, three sons, two grandsons, a son-in-law, and 
two grandsons, by marriage, Methodist preachers. More 
than this : .you have a large posterity, all of whom, this day, 
are members of the Methodist Church. Of more than ninety 
souls of your own posterity and those connected therewith by 
marriage, perhaps there is not more than one who is not in 
the same Church with yourself. It is true, a portion of your 
family have crossed the flood and are now in the city of 
God, but still 

" One family we dwell in him, 
One Church above, beneath, 
Though now divided by the stream, 
The narrow stream of death." 

May your few remaining days, my beloved mother, be calm 
and tranquil, and your last moments joyful and triumphant, 
and when the great day shall come, may you, with your long 
train of posterity, stand on the right hand, and say, with 
joy, "Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath 
given me !" 

Your affectionate son, J. B. McFerein. 

July, 1869. 


It was Dr. Chalmers, the great Scotch preacher, I 
believe, who said, "Methodism is Christianity in earnest" 
Such a Christianity, of course, has a history, and that his- 
tory should be written. No man who is impartial in judg- 
ment, or unprejudiced in feeling, will doubt that John 
Wesley, under God, projected a great work when he deter- 
mined to constitute his Societies in America an independent 
Church. The result has fully verified the wisdom of the 
measure. American Methodism is without a parallel in 
modern times. Within the space of one hundred years, the 
original Society, numbering a few persons, has multiplied 
into two millions, besides the myriads who have died in the 
faith. The progress of the Church in Sunday-schools, in 
Church-literature, in schools and colleges, in church-archi- 
tecture, and its great missionary enterprises, has in a meas- 
ure been equal to the increase of numbers. The Methodist 
Church has become a great moral power in the land ; its 
influence is felt in all departments of society ; every Prot- 
estant Church in America recognizes it as a grand wing of 
the mighty army of the living God. In the South-west the 
Methodists have been very successful ; and in no portion of 


the Valley of the Mississippi have they been more prosper- 
ous than in Tennessee. The Methodist Church is by far the 
largest in the State. Its ministers rank with the most intel- 
lectual and popular preachers of the land, and its member- 
ship are inferior to none in all the relations of life. Besides, 
Tennessee has sent forth to other States many flaming 
heralds of the cross ; its sons are in every part of the South 
and South-west, and its laymen have gone to new countries 
and aided in building up and extending the cause of Christ 
in "the regions beyond." It has been the cherished purpose 
of the author for years to perform the task he has now 
undertaken, but until recently the opportunity seemed to be 
unfavorable. By the blessing of God, he has been able to 
complete the first volume, which, God willing, will soon be 
followed by others. He now submits the result of his labors 
to a generous Christian public, praying the blessing of God 
upon the reader and upon the Church that he has served 
from his youth. 

The author is indebted to several writers who have con- 
tributed much to the history of early times in Tennessee. 
Some of these prepared matter at his special request. 

Accompanying this volume will be found an engraved 
likeness of the author's aged and revered mother, for the 
insertion of which no apology is offered.,. July 29, 1869. ^ K McFfiEE ™- 



Tennessee — Its grand divisions — Its soil, minerals, and 
water - courses— A portion of North Carolina — Its 
early settlers English, Scotch-Irish — Antiquities — 
Indians — Game — Daniel Boone — James Robertson 
— Settlement of Middle Tennessee — The descent of 
the river — Mrs. Robertson — Her children — The first 
preachers in the West — The growth of Methodism. . . 13 


Conference of 1781 — Jeremiah Lambert: his appoint- 
ment to the Holston Circuit in 1783 — Presbyterians: 
their opposition to the Methodists — The doctrines of 
grace — Henry "Willis on Holston in 17£f£ — Mr. 
Wesley's views of America — Ordains Dr. Coke Su- 
perintendent — Mr. Asbury — Formation of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church — The work progresses — 
New Districts formed — R. Ellis — Mark Whittaker 
— Mark Moore — J. Watson — N. Moore — John Tun- 
nell— Nolichuckv 27 



Introduction of Methodism in the Cumberland country 
— Benjamin Ogden — Thomas B. Craighead — Mr. 
Putnam's testimony — John Carr's statement — Haw, 
Massie, and others — The first converts to Method- 
ism : Lindsey, McNeil y, C rane, the Carrs, Cages, and 
Douglass family 36 


The work progresses — Holston — New River — French 
Broad — Edward Morris — J. Doddridge — Increase 
of preachers — Prominent men — McHenry — Combs 
— Controversy between Haw and Burke — Lewis Gar- 
rett's and John Carr's statements — Haw's withdrawal 
— His repentance — Prosperity — Thomas Williamson 
— Thomas Ware 54 


New fields — New and distinguished preachers — McGee 
— Wilson Lee — Peter Massie — John West — Encour- 
aging success — The field enlarges in Holston — 
Barnabas McHenry — John Sewell 66 


Early fruits — Tobias Gibson — John Page — Stephen 
Brooks — James Ward — William Burke — His sketch 
of Methodism in Holston — Bishop Asbury's visit — 
The Earnest family — Letters from Messrs. Earnest 
andMile3 86 



Opposition to Methodism — Still the cause advances — 
Extraordinary ability of the early preachers — Prog- 
ress in the South — Hubbard Saunders — Saunders's 
Chapel — John Kobler — A thrilling sketch — Stith 
Meade — John Ray — Slavery and antislavery senti- 
ments 131 


Philip Bruce — Sketches by Dr. Bangs and Dr. Clark — 
The work progresses slowly — Numbers in Society 
— Francis Acuff — Lewis Garrett — Copious extracts 
from " Recollections " — Williams Kavanaugh : his 
family — Jacob Lurton — Moses Speer: his family.... 152 


Decrease in the membership — The reasons why — Rev- 
olutionary War — Indian troubles — Civil history — 
State formed and admitted into the Union — Legisla- 
ture — Colonel Weakley — Samuel Weakley and 
family — Tobias Gibson — Benjamin Lakin — Ebene- 
zer Conference — General fast and thanksgiving 188 


Conference at Nelson's — Conference in Kentucky — 
Scarcity of preachers — A new circuit — Bishop As- 
bury visits the country east of the mountains — 
Members returned by States — God with his Church 
in the wilderness — John Page : his labors and influ- 
ence — Francis Poythress : his labors and popularity 

— Obadiah Strange — John Buxton — W- Duzan 214 




Six Annual Conferences for 1797 — Holston Confer- 
ence — Bishop Asbury — Bethel Conference — Uncer- 
tain statements — Thomas Wilkerson: letters from 
him — Mrs. Wilkerson — Robert Wilkerson — De- 
crease in numbers: reasons why 233 


The Conference in Holston — Extract from Dr. Pat- 
ton's Life — Valentine Cook — Discussion with Mr. 
Jamieson — Dr. Stevenson's sketch — Mr. Burke again 
on Cumberland — Bethel College — Methodists the 
friends of education — Methodists in all the learned 
professions — Early action of the General Conference. 262 


Change in constituency of the Conferences — Six An- 
nual Conferences — Western Conference — William 
Lambuth — Success of Mr. Page on the Cumberland 
Circuit — Alexander Rascoe — John R. Lambuth: 
his son — Mr. Burke's review of the work — Rev. 
Colonel Green Hill and his family — Dr. McAnally's 
remarks 282 


Dr. McAnally's observations — Numbers in Society — 
Explanation — 1800 a remarkable year — The great 
revival — The manner of its beginning — Camp-meet- 
ings — Their origin — The manner of conducting them 
— The fruit — The revival begins without much 
extra effort — Christ preached — Strange power on the 


preachers and the people — How the work was re- 
garded — The jerks — The origin of the Cumberland 
Presbyterian Church — Barton W Stone's account — 
Unity among Christians — Rev. L. Garrett's Recol- 
lections — Dissensions — Bishop Asbury's travels 332 


A new era in the West — Name of the Conference 
changed from Kentucky to that of " Western Con- 
ference " — Two sessions held this year — McKendree's 
District — He competent to fill it — A sketch of Wil- 
liam McKendree — His election to the office of 
Bishop — His labors — His last Conference — Last ser- 
mon — Death, burial, and epitaph — The Gower 
family 362 


Western Conference, at Strother's, Tennessee : Bishop 
Asbury present — Mr. Garrett's account — Increase 
in the membership — Kentucky District — Holston 
District — Moses Floyd — John A. Granade : extracts 
from his Autobiography — His grandson — Mr. Carr's 
account of him 381 


Conference at Mount Gerizim — Bishop Asbury present 
— A gracious outpouring of the Spirit — Numbers in 
Society — Stations of the preachers — Geographical 
description — John Watson — Henry Smith — Louther 
Taylor — Nashville Circuit — Levin Edney — Jesse 
Walker — James Gwin — Indian battles — The Church 
in the wilderness — Mr. Gwin's labors and death — 
Mrs. Gwin — "Gloom and glory" : a thrilling letter.. 419 



Increase in numbers — Jacob Young's early recollec- 
tions — Cumberland District — The hinderances — 
Triumphs of the cause — Lewis Garrett's Recollec- 
tions — Anthony Houston — The Rev. Thomas Martin 
— Mount Zion Church — The Rev. Jacob Young: 
his travels in East Tennessee — Peter Cartwright — 
"Theophilus Arminius" — Learner Blackman's ac- 
count of the work — Statistics — Conclusion 470 





Tennessee — Its grand divisions — Its soil, minerals, and 
water-courses— A portion of North Carolina — Its early 
settlers English, Scotch-Irish — Antiquities — Indians — 
Game — Daniel Boone — James Robertson — Settlement of 
Middle Tennessee — The descent of the river — Mrs. 
Robertson — Her children — The first preachers in the 
"West — The growth of Methodism. 

Tennessee is among the oldest Western States 
in the United States of North America. It lies 
south of Kentucky, and north of Georgia, Ala- 
bama, and Mississippi, and extends from the Alle- 
ghany Mountains on the east, where it joins 
Virginia, to the Mississippi River on the west. 
It is about four hundred miles in length and 
one hundred in breadth. It is comprised in 
three grand divisions, known as East, Middle, 
and West Tennessee. The Cumberland Moun- 

VOL. I. (13) 

14 Methodism in Tennessee. 

tains divide East and Middle Tennessee, and 
the Tennessee River is the line between Middle 
and West Tennessee. Its southern extremity 
reaches to the 35th° latitude north, and its number 
of square miles is 44,000. The climate is mild, 
the winters short, and the country healthy The 
State has great variety of soil and productions. 
The Eastern part is mountainous, with rich valleys 
of land. It is a fine fruit, grain, and grass coun- 
try, and abounds with coal and good timber. In 
places, valuable marble -quarries are found, and 
extensive iron -banks and copper- mines. The 
water-courses are beautiful and well adapted to 
manufacturing purposes. Middle Tennessee is 
~\ ery fertile. The country is undulating, and the 
soil adapted to grain, cotton, and tobacco. In 
many counties blue-grass and timothy grow well. 
There are extensive quarries of limestone and 
many rich iron-banks, while the mountains are full 
of excellent coal. 

West Tennessee, lying between the two great 
rivers, the Tennessee and Mississippi, is a very 
productive country, yielding corn, wheat, oats, 
and cotton, with vegetables in abundance. 

The Tennessee, Holston, French Broad, Cum- 
berland, Hatchie, and Mississippi, are the principal 
rivers ; these, however, have numerous tributaries, 
which are important to the commercial interests of 
the State. But few States in the Union have 

Methodism in Tennessee. 15 

greater water-power than is found in the Middle 
and Eastern portions of Tennessee. 

Before the State was organized, the territory 
belonged to North Carolina, being included in the 
grant given to the early settlers. Hence many of 
the early pioneers were from that State, and were 
of English descent. There was also a heavy 
sprinkling of Scotch-Irish. Virginia, too, was 
well represented in the early settlements, and sent 
into the new territory many valuable and enter- 
prising families. Among these were many of 
Scotch-Irish descent, who have always proved 
themselves to be valuable citizens in any country 

The country, especially the Middle portion, 
was doubtless inhabited long anterior to the days 
of Sir Walter Raleigh — by whom, we have no sat- 
isfactory information — not even a well-founded 
conjecture. Their graves are with us; their bones 
are still preserved ; specimens of art are dug out of 
their burial-places, and signs of towns and fortifi- 
cations remain till this day ; but of their language, 
manners, or religion, there is no satisfactory infor- 

When the deep forests of the new territory 
were first penetrated by white men, it was found 
to be the great hunting-ground of the Indians, a 
race of men who have always been celebrated for 
their courage and their cruelty. These were 
attracted by the game, which abounded in the 

16 Methodism in Tennessee. 

country. Buffalo, deer, elk, bear, turkeys, etc., 
etc., swarmed in the valleys and covered the 
mountains. There was too much enterprise among 
the early settlers of North Carolina, especially 
among the native-born citizens, to allow the fer- 
tile regions in the "far West" to remain unex- 

At what time the first foot of civilization was 
placed on what we now denominate Tennessee 
soil, will perhaps remain for ever unknown. There 
.is proof, however, that Daniel Boone — the great 
Kentucky hunter, the dauntless Western pioneer 
— as early as 1760, made his mark on the head- 
waters of the Tennessee. When James Robertson 
first crossed the mountains, in 1770, he found, cut 
into the bark of a beech-tree, this record : 

D Boon 



in THE 

YEAR 1760. 

This tree was standing in the year 1859, in the 
valley of Boone's Creek, between the towns of 
Jonesboro and Blountsville.* 

In 1770, James Robertson, of North Carolina, 
passed the mountains, and raised a crop of corn on 
the Watauga, or the head-waters of the Holston. 
Here he found a few settlers, who were in advance 

* Putnam. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 17 

of him in this new and inviting field. In 1771 
he returned to North Carolina, for the purpose of 
bringing his family to his new home. He has- 
tened, and soon after, with his wife and son, joined 
his newly-made friends, and in the spring of 1 772 
united with others in forming the first civil gov- 
ernment ever adopted west of the mountains. 

The number of emigrants increased with some 
rapidity, and new settlements were formed on the 
Watauga, Hols ton, and Clinch Rivers. 

As early as 1769, or 1770, Kasper Mansker 
and others explored the east side of the Cumber- 
land. Again, in 1771, Mansker, Isaac Bledsoe, 
Joseph Drake, and others, visited the country - 

In 1775 Mansker came again, but none of the 
party remained. In the early part of the year 
1779, James Robertson, George Freeland, and a 
iramber of others, visited the place where Nash- 
ville now stands, and made preparation to remove 
their families. A part of the emigrants were to 
come by land, passing through Cumberland Gap, 
Kentucky Trace, and so on; while the women 
and children, under the supervision of John Donel- 
son, Charles Robertson, and others, were to de- 
scend the Holston and Tennessee in boats. The 
former passed through the wilderness safely, while 
Mr. Donelson and his party made a most perilous 
voyage. They had many fierce rencounters with 
the Indians, who attacked their little fleet at 

18 Methodism in Tennessee. 

various points on the Tennessee River. Having 
sustained serious losses in property, the voyagers 
reached the Ohio River on the 15th of March, and 
then ascended the Ohio and the Cumberland Rivers, 
and arrived at their point of destination, French 
Lick (Nashville), April, 1780. 

This party was marvelously preserved. The 
winter was very severe, the Indians hostile, pro- 
visions scarce, boats frail, and helpless women and 
children to be cared for ; yet, with but little loss 
of life, they finally ended their journey, where 
they found the land-party awaiting their arrival. 

James Robertson — afterward General Robert- 
son — was one of the most conspicuous actors in 
all the movements of the early settlers of Tennes- 
see. He was enterprising, brave, sagacious, pru- 
dent, and popular. He not only had the confidence 
of the emigrants, but he had great influence with 
the Indians, and exercised a powerful control over 
them in times of peace, and was a bold fighter in 
times of war. 

He was born in Brunswick county, Virginia, 
June 28, 1742, and died in 1814. His father 
removed to North Carolina while young Robertson 
was yet a youth : there he grew up, and in early 
manhood married Miss Charlotte Reeves, with 
whom he long lived, and by whom he had eleven 
children. He was a member of the first Method- 
ist Society organized in the vicinity of Nashville. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 19 

Mrs. Robertson survived the General many 
years, and finally died, near Nashville, in June, 
1843, and was buried beside the remains of her 
husband. She was a devout Christian, and for 
many years a zealous Methodist. It is somewhat 
remarkable that the writer preached her funeral- 
sermon, and thus forms a connecting link between 
the most prominent pioneers of Tennessee and the 
Methodist Church. But more than this, General 
and Mrs. Robertson were the grandparents of the 
first wife of our esteemed bishop, Robert Paine, and 
the great-grandparents of the Rev. Felix R. Hill, 
a worthy minister of the Tennessee Conference. 
Thus Methodism, that was represented by the 
early settlers of Tennessee, continues in succeed- 
ing generations. 

The following obituary, written by the author, 
appeared in the South-western Christian Advocate 
of June 16, 1843. It will be observed that 
General and Mrs. Robertson belonged to the first 
class formed by Wilson Lee in this portion of Ten- 
nessee. General Robertson was appointed Indian 
Agent, and was thrown beyond the reach of pas- 
toral oversight, and became disconnected with the 
Church. Mrs. Robertson, after the death of her 
husband, returned to Nashville, reunited with the 
Church, and died a Christian. 


" Died, at the residence of her son-in-law. John 

20 Methodism in Tennessee. 

B. Craighead, Esq., three miles from Nashville, on 
Sunday evening, 11th instant (June, 1843), Mrs. 
Charlotte Robertson, relict of the late General 
James Robertson, a pioneer of Tennessee. Mrs. 
Robertson's maiden name was Reeves. She was 
born in Northampton county, North Carolina, in 
the year 1751. In 1779 Mr. Robertson preceded 
his family to Tennessee, and settled near the place 
where now stands this city In the spring of 
1780 Mrs. Robertson, with five children, under 
the protection of Charles Robertson and her 
brother, William Reeves, set out for their new 
home in what was then called the 6 Cumberland 
country ' They, with several other families, em- 
barked on board flat-boats in the north fork of 
Holston River, and proceeded down the Tennes- 
see River to the mouth of Duck River, where 
they expected to land and make their way through 
the wilderness to the Cumberland. On their 
arrival, however, their guides having failed to 
meet them, and seeing no favorable signs, they 
continued their voyage to the mouth of the Ten- 
nessee River. The ice in the Ohio was just 
breaking up, and the river was rising rapidly 
This discouraged their pilot, who abandoned the 
enterprise in despair, and left the company to 
make their way in the best manner possible up 
the Ohio to the mouth of the Cumberland, and 
thence ud the Cumberland to their destined nninf 

Methodism in Tennessee. 21 

Here began a new scene of trial and labor. They 
were all strangers to streams to be navigated, 
meandering through a wild, uncultivated region, 
infested on either side with wild beasts and savage 
Indians : their lives were endangered at every 
point. Mrs. Robertson's company had but two 
men left to stem the torrent — Charles Robertson 
and Reeves — and their pilot gone ! Their two 
canoes were lashed together, and Mrs. Johnson, a 
widowed lady, and sister to General Robertson, 
became their pilot, and managed their steering 
oar ; while Mrs. Robertson and Hagar, an African 
woman, worked at the side oars alternately with 
Robertson and Reeves, and by this tedious proc- 
ess they made their way to their new home, a 
distance of more than two hundred miles. They 
landed on the 2d of April, 1780 * Here they 
lived in forts for years, and suffered many priva- 
tions, frequently being attacked by the Indians in 
the most ferocious manner. Two of Mrs. Robert- 
son's sons were massacred by the Indians in these 
early and troublous times. Through all these 
hardships and dangers Mrs. Robertson was pre- 
served, and lived to see her ninety-third year. 
She was the mother of eleven children, only five 
of whom survive her ; but she has a living pos- 
terity, now scattered through the valley, number* 
ing considerably over two hundred souls. 


Mr. Putnam says April 24. 

22 Methodism in Tennessee. 

"her character. 
" She was kind, tender-hearted, industrious, and 
a friend to the ^poor. In all the relations of life 
she was .faithful, filling her duties of child, wife, 
parent, and mistress, with fidelity. She was loved 
and esteemed by all her acquaintances, and always 
a favorite with her descendants, down to the 
latest generation. Through the instrumentality 
of Wilson Lee, one of the first Methodist preachers 
in this country, she and her husband were con- 
verted, and made a part of the first society of 
Methodists ever organized in this country The 
class met for preaching and social meetings at Mr. 
Hodges, some three miles west of this city In 
the course of time the little society was broken 
up, and the flock scattered. General Robertson 
became a public man, and finally was appointed 
Indian Agent in the Chickasaw Nation, where he 
died in 1814. The latter part of his life, we un- 
derstand, was devoted to the service of God, and 
he died in hope. His bones were removed some 
years since from the Nation, and were deposited in 
the Nashville burying-ground. Mrs. Robertson, 
in the year 1830, again united herself with the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, lived in the enjoy- 
ment of genuine godliness, and died in full expec- 
tation of a glorious immortality. Her remains 
were brought to the McKendree Church on Mon- 
day last, where her funeral-sermon was preached 

Methodism in Tennessee. 23 

by the writer of this brief sketch, to a listening 
and deeply-affected congregation, when she was 
deposited beside her husband to await the resur- 
rection of the last day." 

Several of the daughters of Mrs. Robertson 
were prominent members of the Methodist Church 
for many years. The last one was Mrs. Beck, the 
mother of Mrs. Paine, afterward Mrs. J. B. Craig- 
head, who died near Nashville, in 1866, and was 
buried by the writer. 

The early settlers, both in East and Middle 
Tennessee, underwent many hardships, not the 
least of which was their exposure to the cruelty 
of the merciless savages who infested the land. 
They had to live in forts and block-houses, and 
cultivate their fields, with their rifles in hand, or 
in reach, so that they were ready, at a moment's 
warning, for a fight. Many a brave man fell a 
victim to the red man's hate, and many women 
and children were captured and carried off into 
the wilderness, there to perish, or to remain in 
captivity for many long and dreary years. Per- 
haps no country connects with its early history 
more thrilling incidents, or details acts of greater 
personal courage, than can be recounted in the 
history of the pioneers of Tennessee. 

It is not the purpose, however, of the writer to 
narrate those facts, only so far as they may bear 

24 Methodism in Tennessee, 

upon its religious history, but to confine himself 
mainly to the work before him — the rise and prog- 
ress of Methodism in this fair land. 

A general view of the civil condition of the 
country is very important to a proper apprecia- 
tion of the spread of gospel truth among its in- 
habitants. To conquer and subdue the savage, 
to civilize the rude, to elevate man intellectually 
and morally, is the grand work of Christianity: 
in so far, therefore, as the history of facts shows 
from what depths of degradation and crime man 
has been raised by the gospel, in the same ratio 
we judge of the efficiency of the gospel, of its 
divine origin, and that it is the power of God. No 
human institution — of laws, morals, or philosophy 
— however admirably it may seem to work, can 
raise man from sin and shame to holiness and 
virtue. The gospel is the power of God unto sal- 
vation, and the gospel alone. 

Methodism has done its full share in raising the 
inhabitants of the West to a high state of civiliza- 
tion and mental culture. Its first preachers made 
many sacrifices, and endured much suffering, in 
planting the standard of Christianity in the " far 
West." To redeem their heroic deeds from the 
depths of obscurity, and portray their virtues in a 
true light, is a work worthy the head and heart of 
the genuine patriot and true Christian. Method- 
ism had a small beginning, but, like the grain of 

Methodism in Tennessee. 25 

mustard-seed, it has become a great tree. The 
Methodists are the most numerous of all the 
Churches in Tennessee. In every portion of the 
State their preachers circulate, their houses of 
worship are erected, and their Sunday-schools are 
blessing the land. The rich and the poor meet 
together, while the membership of the Church in- 
cludes all classes of the population. In the city 
and in the country, in the densely -populated 
region, and in sparse settlements, the members of 
the Church are found. They fill the learned pro- 
fessions, they are engaged in merchandise, in 
trade, in agriculture, and in mechanics. In the 
social relations of life they occupy a circle equal 
to the most elevated in the land. Considering the 
newness of the country, it is remarkable how soon 
after the organization of the Methodist Societies 
in America their missionaries reached Tennessee, 
and began their work in the wilderness of the 

In 1766, Philip Embury, a local preacher, began 
to preach in New York. About the same time, 
Robert Strawbridge began to preach in Maryland. 
The first Methodist church, it is affirmed, was 
built in New York in 1768 or 1769. Some writers 
contend, however, that a log " meeting-house" was 
built in Maryland a little anterior to the erection 
of the house in New York. All agree that the 
two houses were erected near the same time. The 
vol. i. — 2. 

26 Methodism in Tennessee. 

first regular Conference was held in Philadelphia 
June, 1773. The traveling preachers then num 
bered 10, and the whole membership 1,160, distrib 
uted as follows — viz. : New York, 180; Philadel 
phia, 180; New Jersey, 200; Maryland, 500 
Virginia, 100. 

Eleven years subsequently (1783), we find i 
missionary (Jeremiah Lambert) in Holston, wh< 
returned seventy- six members. In 1787 thi 
Minutes show that Benjamin Ogden was appointee 
to "Cumberland." He returned fifty-nine whit* 
and four colored members. Thus the reader wil 
perceive that the Methodists, though only formally 
organized into a Conference in 1773, are, by 1787 
across the mountains, preaching in forts and block 
houses, and seeking the lost sheep. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 27 


Conference of 1781 — Jeremiah Lambert: Ins appointment to 
the Holston Circuit in 1783 — Presbyterians : their oppo- 
sition to the Methodists — The doctrines of grace — Henry 
Willis on Holston in 1794 — Mr. Wesley's views of 
America — Ordains Dr. Coke Superintendent — Mr. As- 
bury — Formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church — ■ 
The work progresses — New Districts formed — R. Ellis 
— Mark Whittaker — Mark Moore — J.Watson — IS". Moore 
— John Tunnell — Nolichucky. 

By reference to the General Minutes of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, published by the 
Book Agents, it will be seen that a Conference was 
held at Choptank, Delaware, April 16, 1781, 
which adjourned to meet in Baltimore, Maryland, 
on the 24th of the same month. 

Under the question, " What preachers are ad- 
mitted?" we find the name of Jeremiah Lambert; 
and he is appointed to the Talbot Circuit. From 
the Minutes for 1782 we learn that the Conference 
was held at Ellis's Preaching -house, in Sussex 
county, Virginia, on the 17th of April, and ad- 
journed to Baltimore on May 21st. Here Mr. 
Lambert's name is found again among those who 
are admitted, and he is placed on the Brunswick 
Circuit, with three others. 

28 Methodism in Tennessee. 

The Conference was again held at Ellis's Preach- 
ing-house, on May 6, 1783, and adjourned to Bal- 
timore on the 27th. Here Mr. Lambert's name is 
recorded among those who are denominated " as- 
sistants," and he is appointed to the Holston Cir- 
cuit. Holston was at this time a general name for 
that part of Tennessee lying on the head-waters 
of the Holston River : it likewise embraced that 
portion of Virginia lying on the head-waters of 
the Kanawha or New River. Mr. Lambert's 
work, therefore, was in South-western Virginia 
and East Tennessee. This was a new field, in a 
new and mountainous country The Presbyterians 
— many of whom were Scotch-Irish — made an 
early start in this region; and, though a pious 
people, their prejudices against the Methodists 
were strong, and their influence was wielded, in a 
measure, against those whom they considered as 
dangerous heretics. The teachings of the Method- 
ists came in direct contact with their favorite doc- 
trine of "sovereign grace." Particular, uncon- 
ditional election and reprobation found no favor 
with the Methodist missionaries, who offered re- 
pentance and salvation to every sinner. These 
men were charged with preaching Pelagianism, 
and were accused as Legalists, proclaiming salva- 
tion by works, independent of divine grace. A 
collision was the result, and a long controversy 
ensued, which unfortunately- in after years, ripened 

Methodism in Tennessee. 29 

into bitterness and many personalities. These 
hostile feelings have subsided in a great measure, 
and now the Methodists and the Presbyterians 
fraternize, allowing each to enjoy their own 
opinions, so that they embrace the grand cardinal 
doctrines of the New Testament, and love God 
with pure hearts fervently. Mr. Lambert, at the 
end of his year, returned sixty members; 

The Conference, for the third time in succession, 
convened at Ellis's Preaching-house, in Virginia. 
It met April 30, 1784, and ended in Baltimore 
on the 28th of May following. Mr. Lambert was 
sent to Philadelphia, and Henry Willis was ap- 
pointed to Holston. The following year, Mr. 
Lambert was stationed at Antigua. This was his 
last work. After six years' faithful toil, he ex- 
changed labor for reward. The record says : "He 
was a man of sound judgment, clear understanding, 
good gifts, genuine piety, and very humble and 
holy, diligent in life, and resigned in death; much 
esteemed in the Connection, and justly lamented 
in his death." 

Mr. Willis was a preacher of several years' ex- 
perience and superior abilities, though of delicate 
frame and feeble health. He filled many impor- 
tant stations in the Church, his labors extending 
from New York to Charleston, and, as we have 
seen, to the South-west. He was a native of 
Brunswick county, Virginia, and died in Frederick 

30 Methodism in Tennessee. 

county, Maryland, in the year 1808. He seems 
not to have increased the membership in Holston 
beyond seventy-six; yet he was doubtless useful, 
as signal success followed his labors. He sowed' 
the good seed that sprang up afterward, and 
brought forth abundant fruit. In 1785 he was 
Elder in the District embracing Holston, while 
Richard' Swift and Michael Gilbert were on the 
circuit. The work had so enlarged as to require 
two laborers instead of one. 

The year 1783 was an eventful one in the his- 
tory of American Methodism. Up to this period 
Mr. Wesley's preachers in America labored in 
connection with him, and regarded themselves as 
under his direction — nor did they assume to be an 
independent Church. They were dependent upon 
others for the sacraments, and did not feel at 
liberty, notwithstanding the clamorings of their 
people, to assume the right to ordain their preach- 
ers, or to establish any particular independent 
Church -organization. Mr. Wesley was sensible 
of their embarrassments, and in his wisdom re- 
solved to relieve them. Hence (Sept. 10, 1784) 
he addressed a letter, written at Bristol, " To Dr. 
Coke, Mr. Asbury, and our brethren in North 
America, , ' stating that, " By a very uncommon 
train of providences, many of the provinces of 
North America are totally disjoined from their 
mother country, and erected into independent 

Methodism in Tennessee. 31 

States. The English Government has no author- 
ity over them, either civil or ecclesiastical, any 
more than over the States of Holland. A civil 
authority is exercised over them, partly by the 
Congress and partly by the Provincial Assemblies ; 
but no one either exercises or claims any ecclesias- 
tical authority at all. In this peculiar situation, 
some thousands of the inhabitants of these States 
desire my advice, and, in compliance with their 
desire, I have drawn up a little sketch." 

He then proceeds to state that he believed, ac- 
cording to Lord King, that bishops and presbyters 
are the same order, and that he, as a presbyter of 
the Church of England, under God, had a right to 
ordain ministers to take charge of the flock that 
God had raised up to him in America. He says : 
" I have, accordingly, appointed Dr. Coke and 
Mr. Francis Asbury to be joint Superintendents 
over our brethren in North America; as also 
Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Vasey to act as 
Elders among them, by baptizing and administer- 
ing the Lord's-supper." 

The American Conferences, in 1785, acting un- 
der the advice of Mr. Wesley, "agreed unanimously 
that circumstances made it expedient for us (them) 
to become a separate body, under the denomination 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church." They gave 
as their reason, the letter of Mr. Wesley, and 
formed themselves into an independent Church, 

32 Methodism in Tennessee. 

adopting the Episcopal mode of Church-govern- 
ment, making the Episcopal office elective, and the 
elected superintendent, or bishop, amenable to the 
body of ministers, or preachers. 

This was a grand epoch in the history of the 
Methodist Church. At this time they numbered 
18,000 members and 104 preachers. From this 
day the cause advocated by these Wesleyans went 
forward with unparalleled success. Hitherto they 
had been hindered : their preachers were unor- 
dained, they were dependent on the ministers of 
the Established Church of Great Britain for the 
sacraments, and many of these were ungodly men, 
and others of them had prejudices against the 
Methodists, and were opposed to the movements 
of Mr. Wesley The country had become inde- 
pendent, the Government had separated from the 
crown, and the former sympathy between the 
people of the two countries had in a measure sub- 
sided. Being no longer subject to the British 
crown, they felt that they owed no allegiance to 
the bishops and clergy of Old England. As long, 
therefore, as the Methodists seemed to have con- 
nection with the ministers of the Established 
Church, and were dependent on them, they were 
greatly impeded in their work ; but now, becom- 
ing a free and independent organization, with Dr. 
Coke and Bishop Asbury as their leaders, and 
being in sympathy with the people, and proclaim- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 85 

ing the doctrine of universal salvation through 
faith in Christ, the way to prosperity and success 
was open before them. 

The work began to extend, so that in 1786 
there were several Annual Conferences held — one 
at Salisbury, North Carolina, on February 1st ; one 
at Lane's Chapel, Virginia, April 10th ; and one 
at Baltimore on the 8th of May A District was 
formed, consisting of Salisbury and Yadkin, (North 
Carolina,) and Holston. Reuben Ellis was Elder, 
and Mark Whittaker and Mark Moore were on the 
Holston Circuit. They returned a membership of 
250. This was progress. And, besides, a new 
circuit — the Nolichucky — was formed, and four 
preachers, the next year, were appointed to this 
field — namely, to the Holston Circuit, Jeremiah 
Masten and Nathanael Moore; and to the Noli- 
chucky, Thomas Ware and Micajah Tracy John 
Tunnell was the Elder. 

After several years' labor, Messrs. Masten, 
Tracy, Moore, Swift, and Whittaker located. Many 
preachers in those days were compelled to desist 
from preaching as itinerants, because but little or 
no provision was made for their families ; indeed, 
it seemed to be the custom in those days, that 
when preachers became men of families, they retired 
from the active pastoral work, and devoted them- 
selves to secular pursuits, and preached as far as 

they might be able consistent with their calling or 

34 Methodism in Tennessee. 

business. This was a sad error, into which both 
the people and the preachers fell. The people 
had no right to withhold their support, and the 
preachers did wrong, in that they compromised 
duty, and left the work of God to serve tables. It 
had been better for the Church, better for the 
preachers, better for all, had the practice obtained 
from the beginning, that ministers should devote 
themselves wholly to the work of God, and that 
the Church should give them ample support. 

Mr. Tunnell died of consumption, at the Sweet 
Springs, in July, 1790. "He was about thirteen 
years in the work of the ministry : a man of solid 
piety, great simplicity, and godly sincerity, well 
known and much esteemed both by ministers and 
people. He had traveled extensively through the 
States, and declined in sweet peace." 

Reuben Ellis, who was one of the early pioneers 
in Holston, was a very remarkable man. The 
following obituary we copy from the Minutes of 
the Conferences, Vol. I., p. 67 : 

" Reuben Ellis was about twenty years in the 
traveling connection, during which time he trav- 
eled and preached through Pennsylvania, Mary- 
land, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and 
Georgia. A man of slow but very sure and solid 
parts, both as a counselor and a guide. In his 
preaching, weighty and powerful ; a man of sim- 
plicity and godly sincerity- He was a faithful 

Methodism in Tennessee. 35 

friend; he sought not himself. During twenty 
years' labor, to our knowledge, he never laid up 
twenty pounds by preaching : his horse, his cloth- 
ing, and immediate necessaries, were all he ap- 
peared to want of the world; and although he 
married in the last year of his life, he, like a 
Fletcher, lived as on the verge of eternity, enjoy- 
ing much of the presence of God. He was a native 
of North Carolina ; a man large in body, but slen- 
der in constitution. A few years before his death 
he was brought to the gates of eternity, and the 
fall before his dissolution was reduced very low 
by affliction ; but he was always ready to fill any 
station to which he was appointed, although he 
might go through the fire of temptation and waters 
of affliction. The people in South Carolina well 
knew his excellent worth as a Christian and a 
minister of Christ. His last station was in Balti- 
more, where he ended his warfare in the month of 
February, 1796. His way opened to his ever- 
lasting rest, and he closed his eyes to see his God. 
It is a doubt whether there be one left in all the 
connection higher, if equal, in standing, piety, and 

36 Methodism in Tennessee. 


Introduction of Methodism in the Cumberland country — 
Benjamin Ogden — Thomas B. Craighead — Mr. Putnam'a 
testimony — John Carr's statement — Haw, Massie, and 
others — The first converts to Methodism : Lindsey, 
McNelly, Crane, the Carrs, Cages, and Douglass family. 

The year 1787 was a very interesting era in the 
history of the Methodists in Tennessee. It was 
the year in which Benjamin Ogden, the first mis- 
sionary, passed the wilderness from Kentucky, and 
began to preach in the " Cumberland country " 
Mr. Ogden was admitted on trial the year previous, 
and traveled in Kentucky, James Haw being the 
Elder. It will thus be seen that Methodism was 
planted in East Tennessee before it was intro- 
duced into Kentucky, and that Kentucky was 
only one year in advance of Middle Tennessee. 
Mr. Ogden was a young man — only about twenty- 
two years of age — when he entered the ministry ; 
yet he was brave, and, nerved by moral courage, 
he entered the hazardous field and planted the 
fstandard of the cross where no other messenger 
of salvation had ever lifted up his voice. He was 
inured to hardship, for he had served in the 
Revolutionary War, and knew what it was to 

Methodism in Tennessee. 37 

suffer hunger and nakedness, to be in perils in the 
wilderness, and to be without any certain dwelling- 
place. When now he had become a soldier of the 
cross, he knew how to endure hardness, and to 
count not his life dear to himself, so that he might 
win souls to Christ. The Cumberland Circuit, o4 
mission, embraced, besides Nashville, all the forts 1 
and settlements on the north side of the Cumber- 
land River, extending down in the direction of 
where Clarksville now stands, and up the stream 
to Gallatin and beyond. The territory now em- 
braced in Sumner, Davidson, and Robertson coun- 
ties covered that part of his circuit lying in Ten- 
nessee. There was but little preaching by 
ministers of any denomination prior to this time. 
The Rev- Thomas B. Craighead, a native of North 
Carolina, and a graduate of Nassau Hall, Prince- 
ton, the son of a Presbyterian minister, was or- 
dained by the Presbytery of Orange in 1780, and 
soon afterward went to Kentucky, from whence 
he came to Tennessee in 1785, and "preached at 
Nashville, and some of the stations or forts and 
neighborhoods. During this year, at the earnest 
request of the citizens, he fixed his residence near 
Haysboro, or rather at Spring Hill, about six 
miles east of Nashville. Spring Hill Meeting- 
house, a rough stone building about twenty-four 
by thirty feet, was at once built, and on Sept. 25, 
1786, the trustees of Davidson Academy ordered 

38 Methodism in Tennessee. 

the school to be taught in it, and he taught its 
first class." % Mr. Craighead was a man of learning, 
and Ions: lived at his first residence in the State, 
and devoted most of his time to the education of 
the youth of the country. In this field he was 
very useful, and, as an educator, left a noble 
reputation. As a preacher he was formal, and 
somewhat eccentric, but he has left behind him 
the savor of a good name. Mr. Craighead died in 
1824, aged seventy-one years, and is buried near 
where the old church stood. He left a beautiful 
lot of land for a church and a grave-yard. The 
author has many times preached in the stone 
church, which is now entirely gone, the great 
turnpike-road running near where its foundation- 
stone once lay He is of the opinion that this 
was the second house erected on the same spot, 
the first having been destroyed, or partially de- 
stroyed, by fire. The house was free for Christians 
of all names. 

Mr. Putnam, in his History of Middle Tennessee, 
makes the following honorable record (he is in 
error one year as to date) : 

" Our study and story is, < Pioneer Life,' and, 
as a part of our learning and recital, the preachers 
and the preaching of the gospel are deserving of 
honorable mention. 

" There is a class of ministers which is entitled 

Dr. Bunting. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 39 

to the distinction of i Pioneer heralds of the Cross/ 
These are the ministers of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. The system itself has features most 
happily adapted for such a service. The spirit 
which animates the body, impels to labor not only 
in the pleasant fold where the flock is securely 
housed, but to follow, search out, and save the 
far-off wanderer. And thus, in the history of 
early settlements west of the Alleghany and Cum- 
berland Mountains, to and beyond the Rocky 
Mountains, have these men lifted up i a voice in 
the wilderness.' Such devotion can never lack 
the favor of Heaven, or fail of good and grand 
results. There is an apostolic zeal, a consecration 
and a self-denial, in such a service, which may 
well be pronounced ' heaven-born,' Christ-like. The 
inferior honor which comes from men could not 
induce, much less sustain and reward, such devo- 
tion and toil. 

" We would never knowingly ' rob Peter, to en- 
rich Paul ;' we would undervalue no man's services 
in the groves of the academy, in the laboratories 
of art, in the fields of agriculture, or in that field 
where the harvest is whitened and ripened for the 
laborers chosen and sent of Heaven to gather 
it in. 

" It is an important act to lay a good founda- 
tion, but no less to build suitably and well thereon. 
The forest, the underbrush, and useless stones must 

40 Methodism in Tennessee. 

needs be removed, before the temple or the city 
can appear. There is a diversity of gifts, duties, 
spheres, structures — there is a diversity in attain- 
ments, knowledge, and qualifications — but there is 
only that i wisdom which is from above,' that is 
' first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be en- 
treated, full of mercy and good fruits, without 
partiality, and without hypocrisy ' Where the 
Banner of the Cross is displayed, it can only legit- 
imately be in the cause of truth and righteousness, 
and held up i of them who make peace.' 

" c Giving honor to whom honor is due,' we re- 
cord the arrival of the Rev Benjamin Ogden 
as the first minister of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church who made his appearance to labor in the 
Cumberland settlements for the year 1786. At 
the close of his year's labors in the Cumberland 
Circuit, he reported sixty-three members, four of 
whom were colored persons. ' This was the be- 
ginning of Methodism in Tennessee, west of the 

" c Mr. Ogden was a plain, strong, effective, 
preacher, and did much in planting Methodism in 
the western wilds. He was much beloved by the 
people, a few of whom still remain, cherishing the 
memory of the venerable man.' 

" In the year 1788, Combs and McHenry were 
appointed to the Cumberland Circuit, These 
were good men, faithful and laborious. Barnabas 

Methodism in Tennessee. 41 

McHenry acquired distinction for moral and intel- 
lectual strength. 

" In 1789, the Presiding Elder was Francis 
Poythress, and Thomas Williamson and Joshua 
Hartley were appointed to the charges on Cum- 

"'In 1812, the Western Conference extended 
its borders so as to embrace Tennessee, Kentucky, 
Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, and 
Louisiana. Only a few points, however, of such 
a vast territory were occupied by the ministry, 
because of the sparseness of the settlements. The 
membership was at that time over thirty thou- 

" It is truly said, e The pioneers of Methodism in 
the West and South-west were of untiring zeal and 
great ability- Indeed, there were giants in those 
days. Many of their names are familiar; they 
are household words. The memory of Ogden, 
McHenry,Poythress, Lee, Birchett, Massie, Crane, 
Burke. Gwin, and hundreds more, is a sweet savor 
to the Church.' 

"As we have recorded the beginning of the 
settlements upon the Cumberland, the foundation 
of civil society, and shall leave to the present and 
to future generations to behold, admire, and enjoy 
the grand results of worldly prosperity, so have 
we shown with what instrumentalities the gospel 
was introduced, and the cause of learning, of truth, 

42 Methodism in Tennessee. 

and righteousness were advocated here in early 
times, yielding to others to speak of the triumphs 
of the present day, and of the glories which shall 
be hereafter. 

" We have stated that c the beginning of Meth- 
odism west of the mountains was here ;' so was it 
with Presbyterianism. The advocates and repre- 
sentatives of the peculiar religious sentiments of 
these denominations, Ogden and Craighead, have 
been mentioned. Without 'unchurching' each 
other, or using bitter denunciations of person, or 
labor, or aim, they found an ample scope and ur- 
gent demand for all that they could say and do to 
reclaim the vicious, instruct the ignorant, comfort 
the afflicted, and save the lost. 

" To contend earnestly for the truth, for the 
truth's sake, is ever a duty To do so without 
pride, and with the spirit of meekness, is a rare 
qualification and attainment. 

"'The truth of history' has not recorded — 
and never will — that any one age, or generation, 
or denomination — Protestant or Papal — was pos- 
sessed of all the wisdom, all the virtue, or all the 
grace, attainable by or vouchsafed to man. They 
who are thus wise in their own conceit, certainly 
have little of the wisdom or spirit of the apostle 
who pronounced himself 'a fool in glorying.' They 
are so, with none of his excuse. Perhaps to the 
end of time, and the end of earthly opportunities 

Methodism in Tennessee. 43 

there will remain some of the class who are ( ever 
learning, and never able to come to the knowledge 
of the truth.' And yet the" truth alone can make 
one free. No one questions the piety or zeal of 
these pioneers : doubtless it was not all according 
to knowledge — estimating knowledge by modern 
standards. 'Are we better than they?' is a ques- 
tion well worthy the consideration of some per- 
sons ; as, also, how much it would result to the 
benefit of the world, if more men in our day had 
more of the zeal and wisdom of these pioneers. 
These men claimed to have ' blazed the way' for 
the new settlements. They made their ' marks' 
wherever they went; their ' trails' are not yet 
effaced. The good they did lives after them. 
Others are honored, treading in their footsteps. 
Ministers of other denominations were here before 
the close of the century, and here to witness the 
astonishing scenes of the years of the Great Re- 
vival. But other traces are to be made, other 
highways to be cast up." 

Mr. John Carr, in his Early Times in Middle 
Tennessee, says : "From the year 1787, we were 
blessed with regular preaching in this country 
Messrs. Ogden, Haw, Massie, Williamson, Lee, 
McHenry, and O'Cull, were the preachers who 
first brought the gospel to us. I do not 

hesitate to say, the Methodists were the first to 
sow the gospel seed in Middle Tennessee." 

44 Methodism in Tennessee. 

The Rev. Lewis Garrett, in his Recollections 
of the West, makes mention of Mr. Ogden and 
his first appearance in Tennessee : 

" In the year 1787, Benjamin Ogden, one of the 
first Methodist missionaries sent to Kentucky, 
was appointed to visit and labor in what was then 
called Cumberland — the then thinly-settled region 
about Nashville and Gallatin; and perhaps the 
w r hole country which was then settled is now com- 
prised in Davidson and Sumner counties. The 
hostile savages kept the feeble settlement in a 
state of alarm, bordering sometimes on desperation. 
Those who attended on the ministry of the word, 
went armed, not knowing what moment they 
would be attacked and massacred. Yet this mis- 
sionary of the cross traveled through a consider- 
able desert from Kentucky, and preached the 
gospel in those forlorn settlements with some suc- 
cess, and returned the next year sixty -three 

" Thus was the little vine planted in the midst 
of perils, which God has watered, strengthened, 
and greatly increased. The same year, James 
Haw, Thomas Williams, and Wilson Lee, labored 
in Kentucky with good effect, but not without 
hazard, difficulty, and opposition. This country 
was now populating with astonishing rapidity, 
notwithstanding the scarcity of the common com- 
forts of life and appalling troubles from a hostile 

Methodism in Tennessee. 45 

foe. But although the settlements, in some parts, 
were becoming dense, yet the frontiers were almost 
perpetually annoyed by savage depredations, when 
families were frequently massacred with the most 
heart-sickening cruelty But those warm-hearted, 
devoted missionaries braved the dangers of the 
wilderness ; did not shrink from the hardships, 
privations, and sufferings which awaited them, and 
bore down, in the strength which God supplied, 
the barriers which bigotry, prejudice, and the deep 
depravity of the human heart reared, so that they 
returned the next year four hundred and eighty 
Church-members. Surely God was with them ! 
But they have long since rested from their labors. 
Their works have followed them, and they have 
doubtless met with many of those, their spiritual 
children, where the weary are at rest." 

The author solemnized the rites of matrimony 
between a granddaughter of this pioneer and 
Arthur C. White, Esq., of the vicinity of Nash- 
ville. Mrs. White is the daughter of the late 
Rev. J. W Ogden, alluded to elsewhere in this 
work. She is an excellent, Christian woman, and 
has brought up a family of promising sons, one of 
whom fell in the late Confederate struggle. 

The following memoir of Mr. Ogden will be 
found in the General Minutes : 

" Benjamin Ogden was a native of New Jersey ; 
born in 1764. In eaily life he was a soldier of 

46 Methodism in Tennessee. 

the revolution which gave distinction and inde- 
pendence to his country He embraced religion 
in 1784, at the age of twenty. In 1786 he is 
found among the traveling preachers of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church, two years after its first 
organization. His first appointment was to the 
then wilderness of Kentucky, as a missionary 111 
health compelled him to desist from traveling in 
1788. In 1817 he is again found in the traveling 
connection. He soon, however, sunk a second 
time under the pressure of ill health, but reappears 
in active service in 1824. In 1827 he took his 
place upon the superannuated list, where he re- 
mained until his death, in November, 1834. He 
appears to have been a man of good native intel- 
lect, and various attainments as a Christian minis- 
ter, and especially well instructed, and deeply 
imbued with the principles and spirit of his vocation, 
as a primitive Methodist preacher. After a long 
life of laborious toil and effective service, in the 
furtherance of the gospel, this venerable servant 
of God and his Church — one of the two first mis- 
sionaries who penetrated the vast Valley of the 
Mississippi — was released by death from his 
militant charge, and, expiring in all the calmness 
and confidence of faith and hope, went to his re- 

The Methodists in Middle Tennessee as in 
other places, had much opposition. This came 

Methodism in Tennessee 47 

not only from the unbelieving, but from those of 
whom better things might have been expected — 
Christians by profession, and doubtless honestki 
their opinions, regarding the followers of^r. 
Wesley with a jealous eye. Mr. Carr says : " The 
Presbyterians generally were bitter persecutors 
of the Methodists. They called them enthusiasts; 
and some went so far as to say they were the 
false prophets that were to arise in the last days." 
The doctrines of Calvin were generally preached 
in those days by Presbyterians and Baptists. 
God's sovereignty, and man's inability ; the cov- 
enant between the Father and the Son, by which 
a certain specified and fixed number, which could 
not be increased or diminished, were given to the 
Son — for whom the Son died, and who in due 
time were irresistibly called, justified, sanctified, 
glorified, and saved, and the rest passed by or un- 
conditionally reprobated to eternal death — were 
popular doctrines. The Methodists preached God's 
sovereignty, and man's free agency — his total in- 
ability, apart from preventing grace. They taught 
that Christ died for every man ; that the Spirit of 
illuminating grace is given to every man ; that the 
invitations of the gospel were to all men; that 
God was no respecter of persons — that whosoever 
would, might take the water of life freely ; and 
that, if sinners were finally damned, it would be 
their own fault, and cont"ary to the will and good 

48 Methodism in Tennessee. 

pleasure of God, who would have all men to be 
saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. 
They taught that when a soul was justified by 
faith, and born of the Spirit and adopted into the 
family of Christ, he received the Spirit of adop- 
tion, whereby he knew that he was a child of God; 
and knowing this, he rejoiced in the Lord, his soul 
overflowed with love, which enabled him to say, 
"Abba, Father!" 

On these points the issues were made, and 
animated debates and acrimonious controversies 
ensued. The conflict did not end, nor the spirit 
of contention much abate, till the great revival in 
1800, when all— Calvinists and Arminians, Pres- 
byterians and Methodists — bowed to the power of 
God, and all rejoiced together in the salvation of 
sinners. No doubt the extraordinary work that 
spread over the West, and that so deeply affected 
all classes, materially modified the doctrinal views 
of many. The Presbyterians became great reviv- 
alists, and preached with power, and joined ir 
those exciting exercises of which more shall b( 
said in future. In one of those scenes — at a camp 
meeting— two sermons were preached on the Sab 
bath, one at eleven o'clock, and the other imme 
diately following, at twelve o'clock. The firsi 
sermon was preached by an eloquent young man 
and was a doctrinal discourse, in which the pecu 
liarities of the Westminster Confession of Faith wen 

Methodism in Tennessee. 49 

advocated. He was followed by an aged and 
popular preacher, a Doctor of Divinity, and a great 
revivalist. The Doctor preached a moving sermon, 
and earnestly urged sinners to repent and believe, 
and to begin the work of reformation without 
delay, affirming that now is the day of salvation, 
and that delay might prove their utter ruin. At 
the close of the sermons, a gentleman modestly 
approached, and asked, "Were you not fearful, 
Doctor, that you would wound the young minis- 
ter's feelings to-day ? you seemed to run directly 
across his path." " no," replied the venerable 
minister ; " he preached a doctrinal discourse, but 
I preached a tolling sermon!' And so it was, and 
so it is, when men are to be brought to Jesus, we 
preach " tolling sermons ; " that is, we strive to 
win men to Jesus, to woo them and attract them 
to the cross. The labors of the early missionaries 
were signally -blessed. 

"Among the first-fruits of Methodism," says 
Carr, "in this country who were noted for their 
faithfulness as Christians and leaders among us, I 
must make mention of Isaac Lindsey, William 
McNelly, and Lewis Crane : their names merit a 
passing notice. Isaac Lindsey came with the first 
emigrants to this country in 1780, and settled in 
Eaton's Station, in sight of Nashville. He was a 
man of the very first order of talents, as before 
said in a preceding chapter. He was sworn in a 

VOL. T. — 3. 

50 Methodism in Tennessee. 

magistrate in Nashville in 1783. He removed to 
Sumner county, and settled near where Sanders- 
ville now is, at what is called Lindsey's Bluff, on 
Cumberland River; and in 1787, when Sumner 
first became a county, he was again sworn in as a 
magistrate, and was one of the leading members 
of the court. That year he embraced religion, 
under the ministry of Benjamin Ogden. Shortly 
after, he began to exhort. He was the father of the 
Rev. Isaac Lindsey, who was murdered by Carrol. 
He died at an advanced age at his home — Lind- 
sey's Bluff. Such a man should never be for- 

"William McNelly was the father of the Rev. 
George McNelly, well known to many who now live. 
He was among the first emigrants to this country. 
He was an honest, clever, harmless man — a true 
patriot and soldier to his country He lived and 
died a devoted Christian. He was an exhorter : 
he and Isaac Lindsey were the first exhorters 
licensed among us in this country - 

" Lewis Crane, son-in-law of Isaac Lindsey, came 
to this country with him, and settled in Cage's 
Bend, Sumner county He was a very devoted 
Christian. Some years after embracing religion, 
he was licensed to preach as a local minister^and 
labored with much zeal. He was my class-mate 
in the first society formed in Cage's Bend : he was 
the father of the Rev John Crane, who died a mem- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 51 

ber of the Tennessee Conference : he lived to an old 
age, and died in Cage's Bend. 

" The first Methodist church built in Nashville- 
was in 1789 or 1790 — a stone building — and 
stood somewhere where the Square now is. It 
did not stand long : the town increasing, it was 
moved. The first Methodist church built on the 
north side of the Cumberland River, in Davidson 
county, was four miles north of Nashville, on 
White's Creek, near the house of Absalom Hooper, 
and called Hooper's Chapel. The first Methodist 
church built in Robertson county was Bowen's 
Chapel, near Springfield. The first ever built in 
Sumner county was on the Big Station Camp 
Creek, one mile north of the present pike-road, 
and called Norris's Chapel. I assisted in its 

Mr. Carr himself was one of the early converts 
to Methodism, as was his brother William. They 
became pillars in the Church, and did great good 
in the cause of religion. The Cages also became 
interested in Methodism. Of these families more 
will be said in future. 

Another family deserves to be held in remem- 
brance — the Douglass family They were numer- 
ous, highly esteemed, and very influential. Salem 
Camp-ground, near Gallatin, Tennessee, was the 
scene of their hospitality for many years. The 
following notice of a portion of this large connec- 

52 Methodism in Tennessee. 

tion, from the pen of Dr. J F Cage, we copy from 
the Nashville Christian Advocate, July 17, 1851 : 

" James Douglass, Sr., was born in North Caro- 
lina, March 15, 1762, and died at his residence in 
Sumner county, March 27, 1851, aged eighty-nine 

" He came to this country, then a territory, 
about the year 1781, and settled on the place 
where he died, upward of sixty years ago. He 
raised a large family of children, and lived to see 
them all married and settled. He joined the 
Methodist Church upward of twenty years ago, 
lived an exemplary life, and died a Christian. 

" His wife, Catharine, was born also in North 
Carolina, March 29, 1771, and died a few weeks 
after her husband, aged eighty years and a few 
days. She professed religion, and joined the 
Methodist Church upward of forty years ago, 
lived and died a Christian. Her disease was of a 
lingering character, which she bore with Christian 
fortitude. Often was she heard to say that she 
longed for the time to come when she should bid 
this old earth adieu. There seemed not a cloud 
to dim her prospects, but all was bright. 

"Isaac C. Douglass, Sr., was born July 20, 
1797; died January 18, 1851. He was a mem- 
ber of the Methodist Church for something like 
fifteen years, as a mourner. A little over a year 
before he died, he found the pearl of great price 

Methodism in Tennessee. 53 

From that day to his death I never saw one that 
seemed to enjoy more of the love of God shed 
abroad in his heart than Brother Douglass. He 
was a kind and affectionate husband, a doting 
father, and a kind and indulgent master, a staunch 
and warm friend. None was ever turned empty 
away from him. 

" Eliza W Douglass, wife of Isaac C. Douglass, 
Sr., was born April 24, 1799 ; died November 17, 
1850, just nine days after her son Isaac, and a 
little over one month after her son James B. She 
was long a member of the Methodist Church. 

" Mary C. Sanderson, wife of Brother John F 
Sanderson, and daughter of Isaac C. and Eliza W. 
Douglass, was born August 12, 1826 ; died Feb- 
ruary 22, 1851. She has left a fond husband, 
three small children, and a numerous train of 
relatives and friends to mourn her loss. But we 
fondly hope that their loss is her eternal gain. 

" Isaac C. Douglass, Jr., son of Isaac C. and 
Eliza W Douglass, was born July 21, 1834 ; died 
November 8, 1850. He was for seme time an 
exemplary member of the Methodist Church." 

54 Methodism in Tennessee. 


The work progresses — Holston — New River — French Broad 
— Edward Morris — J. Doddridge — Increase of preachers 
— Prominent men — McHenry — Combs — Controversy 
between Haw and Burke — Lewis Garrett's and John 
Carr's statements — Haw's withdrawal — His repentance — 
Prosperity — Thomas Williamson — Thomas Ware. 

The work progressed during the year 1788, and 
gave encouraging promise of glorious success. 
Mr. Mastenwas returned to Holston, having for a 
colleague Joseph Doddridge. Two new circuits 
appear in the Minutes this year — French Broad 
and New River. These are in the same District 
with Holston, and Edward Morris is the Elder. 
Daniel Asbury was sent to the former, and Thomas 
Ware and Jesse Richardson to the latter. French 
Broad is a branch of the Holston, having; its 
source in the mountains of Western North Caro- 
lina. New River, as we have seen, is a tributuary 
of Kanawha, and both are mountain streams, 
passing through romantic regions. Many of the 
valleys on either side of these beautiful rivers 
are very fertile, and attracted attention at an 
early day in the settlement of this country ; and 
almost as early did these mountains and valleys 

Methodism in Tennessee. 55 

become missionary ground, when the ministers of 
Jesus proclaimed the tidings of salvation. In the 
returns, we find on the Holston Circuit three hun- 
dred and sixty white and three colored members ; 
and on the New River, called in the table of 
statistics " West New River," three hundred and 
seventy-two whites and eight colored. There is 
no printed report from French Broad. The re- 
ports in those days were necessarily defective in 
many instances. Sometimes it was almost impos- 
sible for the preachers to attend the Conferences, 
or to reach the places of meeting by letter. Mail 
facilities were very limited. The preachers who 
labored in these fields were faithful, but some of 
them were compelled soon to retire. Edward 
Morris, from weakness of body or family concerns, 
located. J. Doddridge located in 1791, and after- 
ward took orders in the English Church. During 
the year 1788 a number of preachers were ad- 
mitted on trial, who afterward became famous as 
missionaries in Tennessee, or prominent as distin- 
guished ministers of the gospel. Of that number, 
we mention the names of Peter Massie, Henry 
Birchett, William McKendree, John McGee, and 
Valentine Cook. 

In the printed Minutes for the year, it will be 
seen that David Combs and Barnabas Mcllenry 
are placed on the Cumberland Circuit. This is 
an error, and is thus explained by Mr. McHenry, 

56 Methodism in Tennessee. 

in a letter published in the Western Methodist, 
dated May 15, 1823. He says : " Soon after I 
reached the Kentucky settlement, which was on 
the 11th of June, 1788, Brother Haw formed the 
design of placing me on Cumberland Circuit, to 
which he then intended to accompany me and 
make a short stay, but before he had executed his 
purpose he was superseded by Brother Poythress. 
The consequence was, that Brothers Haw and 
Massie went to Cumberland and I continued in 
Kentucky that year, according to the original 
intention of that appointment. Brother Haw, it 
would seem, communicated his arrangements pre- 
vious to the printing of the Minutes, which occa- 
sioned my name to be inserted as appointed to 
Cumberland Circuit. Brother Combs never went 
there. He was taken sick, and desisted from 

According to the statement of Mr, McHenrv, 
Mr. James Haw and Mr. Peter Massie succeeded 
Mr. Ogden on the Cumberland Circuit. They had 
much fruit, and returned at the next Conference 
three hundred and ninety-four white and ten col- 
ored members. 

Mr. Haw was admitted on trial in 1782, at the 
Conference which was commenced at Ellis's Preach- 
ing-house, Virginia, and ended at Baltimore, and 
was appointed to the South Branch Circuit. In 
1783, he was sent to the Amelia Circuit; 1784, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 57 

to the Bedford Circuit, Virginia; 1785, to the 
Brunswick Circuit; 1786 and 1787, he was Elder 
in Kentucky; 1788, his name stands on the 
printed Minutes in connection with the name of 
Francis Poythress, as Elders ; but we have seen 
by Mr. McHenry's statement that he was sent to 
Cumberland in that year. Mr. Haw continued in 
the traveling ministry some two or three years 
subsequent to this period, and then located and 
settled in Sumner county, Tennessee. 

The Rev Lewis Garrett thus writes of him : 
" James Haw was a man of zeal, rather bordering 
on enthusiasm ; he had been very useful for sev- 
eral years in the West, but this year (1790) he 
married and located. It was thought that he 
indulged a little too much in jealousy and envy, 
and lost his influence and usefulness. In 1795, 
he joined Mr O'Kelly's party, appointed a meet- 
ing in Sumner county to find fault with the gov- 
ernment of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and 
to make proselytes; was met by William Burke, a 
traveling preacher, who defended against his 
attacks. Failing to get followers, he sunk down 
into silence, till in the great revival about 1801, 
he seemed to revive, joined the Presbyterians, 
preached occasionally, and did, it was thought, 
make a good end." 

Mr. John Carr, in his " Early Times," makes 
this note in reference to Mr. Haw : " James Haw 

58 Methodism in Tennessee. 

came among us first in 1788. He traveled and 
preached also in 1790, with Peter Massie ; and 
during that year he married a sister of General 
Thomas, of Nolin county, Kentucky, and after- 
ward he labored but little in the itinerancy He 
was a preacher of great zeal and much usefulness 
for a season. I knew him well, as we lived 
neighbors on Drake's Creek, in Sumner county, 
where the people were so taken with him, they 
purchased for him a six-hundred-and-forty-acre 
tract of land. He settled on it, and in return 
promised to serve them as a Methodist preacher 
as long as he lived. Soon, however, he became 
dissatisfied with the Methodist Discipline, and 
began to preach against the Methodist Bishops ; 
and besides, he did every thing in his power to 
induce the whole Church to go off to the O'Kelly 
party Very few joined with him, and even his 
wife was firm in her adherence to Methodism. 
In 1795, he engaged in a public debate with 
William Burke, whose services on that occasion 
saved the Church from ruin, while James Haw's 
usefulness as a preacher was destroyed for ever. 
After a few years, he joined the Presbyterian 
Church, and died a member of that communion." 

The Bev William Burke, in his Autobiography, 
gives a detailed account of Mr. Haw's disaffec- 
tion, and of his controversy with himself, and of 
the triumph of the principles of Methodism. Mr. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 59 

Burke believes that Mr. Haw ended his long life 
in peace. In Dr. Redford's History of Method- 
ism in Kentucky we have brought to light the 
testimony of Learner Blackmail, that after Mr. 
Haw united with the Presbyterian Church, he 
made a public recantation of his charges against 
Bishop Asbury and the Methodist Church ; that 
he in a measure regained the confidence of the 
people, and died in the faith of Jesus. The 
author well knew a branch of Mr. Haw's family, 
and found them to be strong friends of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church ; indeed, several of them 
were members : he officiated as a minister in the 
family of his son, and found him and his house- 
hold warm in their attachments to Methodism. 

It is a very significant fact, that nearly every 
schism in the Methodist Episcopal Church in early 
times proved a failure. Mr. O'Kelly, with whom 
Mr. Haw sympathized for awhile, was a man of 
superior abilities and great influence, especially in 
Virginia. He had for many years been a very 
prominent preacher, and was likewise remarkably 
popular. He became dissatisfied with his Church, 
warred against Bishop Asbury, set up a Church 
of his own, and became the leader of his party — 
flourished for a season and then died out, and his 
organization will only be known to the future his- 
torian as a, failure. These attempts to disturb the 
peace of the Church merely to gratify a whim, or 

60 Methodism in Tennessee. 

to resent a personal injury, is a great sin against 
God and against the Church which Christ bought 
with his own blood. The evil would not be so 
great, nor the sin so aggravating, if it affected the 
movers alone ; but innocent and unoffending per- 
sons are often — unawares — drawn into the strife 
and caused to suffer loss by the undue influence 
of captious and ambitious leaders. Mr. Haw 
was a good man ; he did much in the interests 
of Methodism, and was instrumental in the salva- 
tion of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of immortal 
souls ; but in the hour of temptation he gave way 
to the power of the evil one, and brought sadness 
and sorrow upon the Church and upon his own 
heart. When a Church or congregation apostatizes 
by departing from the doctrines of revelation, or 
ingrafts upon its creed the traditions of men, mak- 
ing void the law, and rendering the gospel of Christ 
powerless, and will not be reclaimed, then it be- 
comes the duty of the faithful to withdraw from 
such. This is not schism, but a firm adherence 
to the truth as it is in Jesus. 

In 1789, the work went on in both East and 
Middle Tennessee. A District was formed in 
the East, consisting of Holston, West New River, 
Greenbrier, and Bottetourt Circuits. John Bald- 
win and Mark Whittaker were appointed to the 
Holston Circuit, and Jeremiah Abel and Joseph 
Doddridge were placed on the West New River ■ 

Methodism in Tennessee. 61 

John Tunnell, Presiding Elder. The returns 
showed a membership on Holston of four hundred 
and eleven whites and nine colored, and on the 
West New River two hundred and ninety-nine 
whites and six colored. On the Cumberland Cir- 
cuit, Thomas Williamson and Joseph Hartly were 
the preachers, and Francis Poythress was Presid- 
ing Elder* The statistics show on this circuit a 
membership of two hundred and twenty -five 
whites. This is a very handsome increase, and 
was truly encouraging to those self-sacrificing men 
who counted all things but loss for the excellency 
of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Mr. Abel located 1791. Mr. Williamson con- 
tinued two years afterward in the regular work, 
and retired for want of health. William Burke 
says of him, " Thomas Williamson was a very suc- 
cessful and laborious preacher. He literally wore 
himself out in traveling and preaching, but ended 
his days in peace in the State of Kentucky, not 
far from Lexington." 

By reference to the Appointments for this and 
the preceding year, we find the name of Thomas 
Ware, who became a prominent minister of the 
gospel. He was a native of New Jersey, and 

* Up till near this period, those who had the special 
oversight of Districts were called simply Elders : here they 
are called Presiding Elders — this is at present the custom. 

62 Methodism in Tennessee. 

commenced the work of the ministry in 1783. 
Dr. Bangs, in Sprague's Annals of Methodism, 
gives an interesting sketch of Mr. Ware, from 
which we make the following extract : 

"At the Conference of 1787, Mr. Ware volun- 
teered, with two other young men, to accompany 
the Rev Mr. Tunnell to the Holston country, now 
East Tennessee. Here he found a fine, productive 
region, sparsely settled; but among the settlers 
were not a few who at once greatly needed and 
strongly opposed the influence of the gospel. 
Still, however, their w T ork prospered : societies 
w T ere formed, and a number of log-chapels erected; 
and, on the circuit, three hundred members were 
received the first year. 

"In the autumn of this year, (1787,) com- 
munications were received, by the Presiding 
Elder, from certain persons who lived far down 
the Holston and French Broad Rivers, earnestly 
requesting that, in view of their very destitute 
condition, a preacher might be sent to them. Mr. 
Ware consented to undertake this mission ; but it 
involved great deprivations, hardships, and perils. 
His route lay through a region that was infested 
by hostile Indians, and several individuals, and 
even whole families, had been murdered by them, 
a short time before he made the journey Having 
visited the most distant settlement on the Hol- 
ston, he crossed over to French Broad River with 

Methodism in Tennessee. 63 

nothing else to guide him than marked trees. 
Here he found a few Methodists, who had come 
from distant parts, and were prepared to receive 
with great delight a preacher of their own Com- 
munion. At this place no danger was to be ap- 
prehended from the Indians, though he had serious 
opposition to encounter from certain Antinomian 
preachers, of scandalous lives, who not only suc- 
ceeded in stirring up violent prejudices against 
himself, but did much to bring all religion into 

" The first Conference in Holston was held in 
1788. Bishop Asbury, owing to the danger of 
traveling, except in considerable companies, did 
not reach the place for a week after the time ap- 
pointed for the Conference to commence its ses- 
sion. However, they improved the time in preach- 
ing, and among those who were reckoned as con- 
verts, were General Russell and his wife — the 
latter a sister of Patrick Henry From this 
Conference Mr. Ware was appointed to East New 
River, where he met with a most kindly reception, 
and had considerable success in his labors. Here 
he administered baptism to a large number of 
children, including not a few whose parents be- 
longed to the Presbyterian Church — there being 
no minister of that denomination in the neighbor- 
hood. He passed two years in this new country, 
not indeed without many exposures and trials. 

64 Methodism in Tennessee. 

but, on the whole, in a way very satisfactory to 

"In the spring of 1789, Bishop Asbury visited 
Mr. Ware's circuit, and took him to North Caro- 
lina. The Conference for that year was held at 
McKnight's Church, and was, on several accounts, 
one of great interest. Mr. Ware was appointed 
to Caswell Circuit, and, as soon as the Conference 
had closed its session, set out for his field of 
labor. Besides being nearly penniless, and with- 
out decent clothing, he lost his horse after a few 
clays ; but the brother with whom he had stopped 
furnished him a horse on trial ; and another per- 
son — not a Methodist — with whom he came 
casually in contact, sent him to his store in New- 
bern, with directions to his clerk to furnish him 
clothing to the amount of twenty-five dollars. 
For this he declined all compensation. 

" Soon after commencing his labors in North 
Carolina, he visited a settlement consisting almost 
exclusively of Episcopalians. As the Revolu- 
tionary War had driven away their ministers, and 
caused a suspension of the administration of 
Christian ordinances, large numbers of parents 
had requested that he would baptize their chil- 
dren. The scene was one of great interest, and 
much feeling was visible throughout the assembly 
At the close of the service, many followed him 

to the house where he lodged, and in the evening 


Methodism in Tennessee. 65 

he preached to them, and thus there commenced 
a revival of religion of great power. 

" Mr. Ware's second year in this part of the 
country was on a District consisting of eight cir- 
cuits, embracing a part of Virginia. At one of 
the quarterly -meetings held on New River, an 
attention to religion was awakened, at once so 
extensive and so powerful, that for many weeks 
almost all worldly concerns were suspended 
throughout quite a large district. Just before he 
left the State, he was confined, by indisposition, 
at the house of a very aged couple, who had no 
children, and who had been hopefully converted 
through his instrumentality- Being in possession 
of considerable property, and far advanced in life, 
they desired him to write their will ; but he 
objected on the ground of being ignorant of the 
required form. They replied that their will was 
simple, and might easily be drawn — that it was 
nothing more nor less than that, on condition of 
his remaining with them, during their short stay 
in this world, all that they had should be his. 
But, tempting as the offer was, he could not 
accept it with a good conscience ; and he there- 
fore took leave, not only of these generous friends, 
but of the State in which they lived, and returned 
to visit his friends in New Jersey, after an ab- 
sence of six years." 

66 Methodism in Tennessee. 


!N<ew fields — New and distinguished preachers — McGee — 
Wilson Lee — Peter Massie — John West — Encouraging 
success — The field enlarges in Houston — Barnabas Mc- 
Henry — John Sewell. 

We now enter upon the year 1790, which in- 
troduced into Tennessee several laborers who be- 
came famous as men of talents, zeal, and devotion 
to the work. In East Tennessee we find the 
name of Julius Conner on the Holston Circuit, 
and John McGee and John West on the Green 
Circuit. On the Cumberland. Circuit, Wilson Lee, 
James Haw, and Peter Massie were the preachers. 
Green, the reader will observe, is a new circuit in 
the list of Appointments, and Messrs. McGee, Lee, 
and Massie are new preachers, having for Ihe first 
time been appointed to this interesting and peril- 
ous field of toil. Green Circuit, as we shall see, 
was in after years traveled by eminent men; and 
Messrs. McGee, Lee, and Massie filled a large 
space in the history of the Church. Francis Poy- 
thress was again on the District, as Presiding 
Elder. The success attending the labors of these 
pioneer servants of the Church was encouraging, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 6« 

notwithstanding the numerous hinderanees. The 
numbers were reported as follows : — Holston : 
450 whites, 14 colored. New River : 30$ whites. 
15 colored. Cumberland : 241 whites, 41 colored. 

The following year Mr. Massie closed his use- 
ful and laborious life. Having accomplished much 
on the Cumberland Circuit, he was, in 1791, ap- 
pointed to the Danville Circuit, in Kentucky 
During the year he made a visit to the neigh- 
borhood of Nashville, where he died at the house 
of Mr. Hodges, on the 19th of December. 

The following is the brief memoir published in 
the General Minutes : 

" Peter Massie was under the profession of re- 
ligion for some years. He felt some declension in 
the spirit and practice of religion for a season, but 
was afterward restored. He labored faithfully 
in the ministry for upward of three years, con- 
firmed and established in the grace of God, and 
useful : an afflicted man, who desired and obtained 
a sudden death — by falling from his seat — and 
expired on the 19th of December, 1791, in the 
morning, about nine o'clock, at Cumberland, on the 
Western waters." 

The Rev. Lewis Garrett, in his Recollections 
of the West, gives the following brief but interest- 
ing sketch of this devoted minister of the cross : 

"Peter Massie, who was appointed to labor 
this year (1790) in Cumberland, was a laborious, 

68 Methodism in Tennessee. 

useful preacher, but an afflicted man. There 
was something a little remarkable in the history 
we have heard of him. He had made a profession 
of religion, and felt impressed to preach the gos- 
pel. This call he resisted till he had declined in 
his religious feelings and enjoyments. Himself 
and two others crossed the Ohio River into the 
Indian country, and gathered some horses. On 
their return the Indians overtook them on the 
bank of the Ohio, fired on them, and killed all 
the company but Massie. Seeing no chance to 
escape by flight, he sprang into a sink, and con- 
cealed himself among the weeds. He could see 
the savages butchering his comrades, whom they 
cut to pieces and scattered around him. He called 
on God to preserve him, and covenanted in his 
heart that if fhe Lord would keep him from de- 
struction, he would go and labor in his vineyard. 
His life was preserved, and he soon after entered 
the itinerant connection. He was a feeling, pa- 
thetic preacher — w T ent forth weeping, bearing pre- 
cious seed. The sympathetic tear often trickled 
down his manly cheek while pointing his audience 
to the Lamb of God slain for sinners. He trav- 
eled about three years, and felt the effects of his 
arduous employment. It is said he desired and 
obtained a sudden death He fell from his seat 
and expired, December 19, 1791, at the house 
of Mr Hodges, four miles from Nashville, wljere 

Methodism in Tennessee. 69 

his mortal remains rest in hope till the resurrec- 
tion of the just." 

" Mr. Massie," says Dr. Bedford, " was the first 
itinerant minister to die who had identified his 
interests with the Methodists in Kentucky " He 
was converted in Kentucky, and, as we have seen, 
Jonah-like, tried to evade his duty, till he had 
well-nigh lost his soul. But he was strangely re- 
claimed, and devoted several years to the work of 
the ministry, warning the people day and night 
with tears in his eyes. The following interesting 
items we copy from Dr. Bedford's History of 
Methodism in Kentucky, Vol. I. : 

"He died in the bounds of the Cumberland 
Circuit, on which he had traveled the previous 
year, and to which he had gone probably on a 
visit to his friends. On the evening of the 18th 
of December, 1791, he reached the house of Mr. 
Hodges, four miles west of Nashville. The family 
of Mr. Hodges was in the fort, for protection, and 
Mr. Hodges himself was in his cabin, alone, and 
quite ill. The only person at the cabin, besides, 
was a negro boy named Simeon, who had on that 
evening escaped from the Indians, and reached the 
house of Mr. Hodges. Simeon had become ac- 
quainted with the preacher on the Cumberland 
Circuit, and had been converted through his in- 
strumentality Mr. Massie was 6 an afflicted man.' 
His constitution, always feeble, had become greatly 

70 Methodism in Tennessee. 

impaired by his excessive labors, and, on reaching 
the house of his friend, he complained of indisposi- 
tion. He suffered considerably during the night, 
but on the next morning was able to take his place 
at the table. While in conversation with Mr. 
Hodges, it was observed to him ' that he would 
soon be well enough to travel, if he recovered so 
fast.' To which he replied : i If I am not well 
enough to travel, I am happy enough to die.' * 
These were his last words. In a few moments he 
fell from his seat, and suddenly expired. In any 
country the death of such a man would be deeply 
felt; but where the ( harvest was so plenteous, 
and the laborers so few,' the loss of so useful a 
minister would spread a shadow over the Church. 
But he has passed away — the first of a noble line 
of self-sacrificing and devoted ministers of Christ 
— c having washed his robes and made them white 
in the blood of the Lamb.' 

" When nearly a half century had elapsed, the 
Tennessee Conference felt a considerable anxiety 
to find the place of his burial. No stone had been 
left to mark his grave ; or, if so, it had fallen away 
A committee was appointed to find the sacred 
spot ; but, after an ineffectual search for years, 
the hope of success was abandoned. Seven years 
later, the Rev Thomas L. Douglass was preaching 


Rev. Learner Blackman's unpublished Manuscripts. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 71 

near Nashville, and in the close of his sermon re- 
ferred with much feeling to the hope he anticipated 
of meeting in heaven with Wesley, Asbury, Mc- 
Kendree, and others who had passed over the 
flood. In the congregation there sat an aged 
African, with tears coursing their way down his 
furrowed cheeks, and the frosts of nearly eighty 
winters resting upon his brow. He too was deeply 
moved, and, thinking of another whom he hoped 
to see again, exclaimed in a clear voice : ' Yes, 
and Brother Massie !' and then, continuing his 
soliloquy, he added: 'Yes, Simeon, with these 
hands, with no one to help, you dug his grave, 
and laid him away in the cold earth ; but you will 
see him again, for he lives in heaven !' A mem- 
ber of the Tennessee Conference* sat just in front 
of old Simeon, and heard what he said. After 
the close of the services, he took him aside, and 
inquired of him as to what he knew of the death 
and burial of Peter Massie. His eyes sparkling 
with the fire of other years, he replied that he was 
at Mr. Hodges at the time of the death of Mr. 
Massie; that Mr. Hodges himself was sick, and 
unable to assist in his burial, and that the painful 
pleasure of the interment devolved on him alone ; 
that he had no plank of which to make a coffin ; 
that he cut down an ash-tree and split it in slabs, 

* Rev. A. L. P. Green, D.P. 

72 Methodism in Tennessee. 

and placed them in the grave which he had dug, 

and, after depositing the body, placed a slab over 

it, and then rilled the grave with the earth. He 

was under the impression that he could find the 

precise spot where the remains of Massie lay; but 

he could not. When he buried him, the whole 

country was a wilderness; but at the time he made 

the search for his grave, civilization had changed 

its entire appearance. 

' His ashes lie, 
No marble tells us where. With his name 
No bard embalms nor sanctifies his song.' " 

Wilson Lee traveled but one vear in Tennessee, 
but he made an impression that remained with the 
people for years succeeding. 

Mr. Garrett says : " Wilson Lee was a man 
eminent for talents, zeal, and usefulness; of rather 
feeble constitution, handsome address, and preached 
the gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from 
heaven." He remained in the Conference till 
] 804, rilling many of the most important stations 
in the whole Church. The following memoir ap- 
pears in the Minutes for 1805 : 

" Wilson Lee was a native of Sussex county, Del- 
aware; born November, 1761. He came into the 
line of traveling preachers in the year 1784, and 
was stationed in the following circuits : Alleghany, 
1784; Redstone, 1785; Talbot, 1780; Kentucky' 
1787; Danville, 1788; Lexington, 1789; Cum- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 73 

berland, Tennessee, 1790; Salt River, 1791; Dan- 
ville, 1792; Salem, Jersey, 1793; New London, 
1794; New York, 1795; Philadelphia, 1796, 
1797,1798; Montgomery, 1799 ; supernumerary, 
Montgomery, 1800 ; Baltimore District, 1801, 
1802, 1803; sick and superannuated, 1804. As 
we are not in the habit of printing funeral-sermons 
for our preachers, it becomes necessary that we 
should lengthen the memoirs of those that have 
served the Church so long and so faithfully In 
so doing we may see how extensively they labored 
on the Western extremities, and in great danger 
of their lives, also the difficulties of accommoda- 
tions in the early settlement of the country Wil- 
son Lee was very correct in the economy and the 
discipline of himself and others, as an Elder, and 
a Presiding Elder. He showed himself a work- 
man that needeth not to be ashamed, as those who 
labored with him will witness, and those that were 
under his pastoral charge. The District prospered 
under his administration, and a gracious revival 
has had a beginning and blessed continuance. 
Wilson Lee professed the justifying and sanctify- 
ing grace of God. He was neat in his dress, 
affable in his manners, fervent in his spirit, ener- 
getic in his ministry, and his discourses were fitted 
to the cases and characters of his hearers. Erom 
constitution he was very slender, but zeal— zeal 
for the Lord — would urge him on to surprising 
vol. i — 4. 

74 Methodism in Tennessee. 

constancy and great labors. It was thought that 
the charge of such an important District, and the 
labor consequent upon it, hastened his death ; but 
a judicious friend observed that he had a call to 
visit a dying brother on the west side of the Alle- 
ghany Mountains, that the change of weather, and 
some other circumstances of his exposing himself, 
gave him his finishing stroke. In April, 1804, he 
was taken, while in prayer with a sick person, 
with a heavy discharge of blood from his lungs. 
At his death a blood-vessel of some magnitude was 
supposed to break, so that he was in a manner 
suffocated with his own blood in a few minutes. 
He died at Walter Worthington's, Anne Arundel 
county, Maryland, October 11, 1804. 

" Wilson Lee's last resource was to have tried 
the Southern climate ; but he rests not only from 
his labors, but his sufferings, and is gone a little 
before his brethren. May we follow him as he 
followed Christ, that we may sit together in glory ! 
As to human honor, ease, or interest, he cheerfully 
gave up all these for Christ, his cause, and his 
cross, to meet the kingdom and the crown. 

"As he died so suddenly, and in such a manner, 
we had not his last words, as some have given 
who have had a deliberate departure from time to 
eternity Yet we may add, although our faithful, 
laborious, and successful brother has left us we 
are lappy to sav- after full trial, he has immortal- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 75 

ized his ministerial, Christian, and itinerant char- 
acter. Many have done gloriously, in making 
generous and great sacrifices for the Church of God 
and the prosperity of Zion ; and among these we 
must and will place our suffering, pious, and dedi- 
cated brother, who did actually cast his all into 
the treasury. 

" His labors and life were laid down together. 
He has fought the good fight, finished his course, 
and kept the faith, and we may with all confidence 
say to his brethren in the ministry, and in the 
Church : ' Follow him as he followed Christ, until 
we meet on Mount Zion, and help in swelling the 
triumph of free grace.' 

" It may be truly said that Wilson Lee hazarded 
his life upon all the frontier stations he filled, 
from the Monongahela to the banks of the Ohio, 
Kentucky, Salt River, Green River, Great-barrens, 
and Cumberland River — in which stations there 
was savage cruelty and frequent deaths. He had 
to ride from station to station, and from fort to 
fort, sometimes with, and at other times without, 
a guard, as the inhabitants at those places and 
periods can witness." 

The field, by 1791, began to enlarge in Holston. 
A District— consisting of West New River, Rus- 
sell, Holston, Bertie, Greenville, Camden, and 
Portsmouth Circuits -— appears in the Minutes. 
Mark Whittaker was the Elder. Charles Hardy 

76 Methodism in Tennessee. 

and John West were on West New River ; Johu 
Ball on Russell, (this lay mainly in Virginia) ; 
John Sewell on Holston ; and Benton Riggin and 
William Spencer on Greenville. On the Cumber- 
land Circuit two new preachers appear, both of 
whom become prominent in the ministry — namely, 
Barnabas McHenry and James O'Cull. " Mr. 
O'Cull," says Dr. Redford, " was a native of Penn- 
sylvania, and, by birth and education, a Roman 
Catholic. He was converted, when he was young, 
under the ministry of the Methodists. He came 
to Kentucky in 1789, traveled two years under 
the Presiding Elder. He joined the Conference 
in 1791, and was sent to the Cumberland Circuit, 
where he was greatly beloved, and was the instru- 
ment, in the hands of God, of turning many to 
righteousness. His health did not hold out long, 
though he continued to live several years, and 
finally died in the faith." 

Mr. McHenry was a man of mark, and long 
lived a bright and shining light in the Church. 
" He," says William Burke, " was one of the early 
fruits of Methodism in the Holston country 
His parents resided in Rich Valley, not far from 
the salt-works in Washington county, Virginia." 

Mr. Garrett, in his Recollections of the West, 
says : " He was a pioneer, a missionary, a suffer- 
ing traveling preacher, in the West, when there 
were no religious journals to tell of his talents his 

Methodism in Tennessee. 77 

sufferings, or his achievements. In the days when 
Methodist preachers were few, little known, and 
little noticed — shared but little in the caresses of 
the world, and were only loved and prized by God 
and the really pious or really penitent — he rose 
up and passed- unostentatiously through perils 
from the heathen, and perils in the wilderness, en- 
during hunger, poverty, and privation. The writer 
of these sketches knew him, and appreciated his 
worth early He has claimed him as his father in 
the gospel for forty -two years, received many 
useful and pious lessons from him at the house of 
a widowed mother, when a youth — marked then 
his mild and solemn aspect, his deep devotion, and 
his soothing sermons. We recollect to have heard 
a pious mother say that he was indeed a son of 

Mr. McHenry's daughter, in a letter to Mr. 
Garrett, written in 1834, gives the following in- 
teresting details : 

Father Garrett :— As to father's early life in 
the ministry, perhaps you know as much, or more, 
than I do. He commenced traveling at the age 
of nineteen, but always advised young preachers 
not to be in a hurry to enter the ministry He 
thought himself qualified, from experience, to give 
advice on that subject. He thought, if he had 
waited a year or two before he commenced, he 

78 Methodism in Tennessee. 

would perhaps have been as useful, and been much 
better qualified to meet the many trials that a 
faithful minister is necessarily subject to. He 
married at twenty-six, and had to locate shortly 
after. He commenced traveling again, I think, in 
1819; traveled some years, and sustained a super- 
numerary or superannuated relation to the Church 
until his death. He preached almost every Sab- 
bath, when his health would admit of it, since my 
recollection. When he was supernumerary he had 
regular appointments, at a distance from home, 
sometimes twenty miles or more, which no inclem- 
ency of weather kept him from attending. 

He always made it his care to hunt up the 
waste places; and if he had a dozen or twenty 
hearers at first, and two or three of them appeared 
interested, he could preach as well, and pray with 
as much fervor, as if he had a congregation of a 
thousand. Thus he often kept alive and increased 
the spark that. w 7 as ready to die, in his own and 
other Churches, in congregations where other min- 
isters thought the prospect too dull to w T aste their 
talents and time in attending them. 

He had some difficulties in the Church when 
he was Presiding Elder last, which arose alto- 
gether from his firmness, independence, and atten- 
tion to discipline. But he lived to verify the prov- 
erb : " When a man's ways please the Lord, he 
maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." 

Methodism in Tennessee. 79 

He died of cholera, on the 14th of June, 
1833. It reached the village near where he lived 
on the 9th, and he went there the next day, and 
visited almost every person who was sick, and 
prayed with them. He was taken ill on the 
morning of the 14th, and died at one o'clock that 
night. He suffered no pain, but died as if a small 
vein had been opened, and his life had leaked out. 
There was no one present but a few of his own 
family His wife was extremely ill, and died a 
few hours after. He appeared to wish to take as 
little attention as possible — did not talk at all, but 
to inquire how his wife was — said not a word 
about dying, but remarked to his daughter that 
he wanted to be buried near by Susanna, (a 
daughter who had died some years before.) He 
and his wife lived together thirty-nine years, and 
were buried in one grave. S. W. H. 

Nashville, March 25, 1834. 

Mr. McHenry, in a letter which has been re- 
published several times, gives some very interest- 
ing details, from which we make the following 
extracts. He says : 

" In company with Brother James O'Cull, I 
reached Philip Trammell's, on one of the forks of 
Red River, not very far from the place which has 
since been called ' Cheek's Tavern,' on Wednes- 
day, May 25, 1791. The circuit was a four- 

80 Methodism in Tennessee. 

weeks' circuit. Clarksville, near the mouth of 
Red River, was the lower extremity of the circuit 
and of the settlement. We had one stage between 
that place and Prince's Chapel, near the mouth of 
the Sulphur Fork. We had one or two preaching- 
places up the fork, besides one on Whippoorwill, 
a large creek that falls into it on the north side, 
whence we proceeded on, or near, to the northern 
limits of the settlement, (which did not then in- 
clude all the upper waters of Red River,) preach- 
ing at a few places where we had some societies, 
till some distance above Trammell's we turned 
across to Sumner Court-house, which was a cabin 
near Station Camp Creek. The upper end of the 
circuit was the eastern extremity of the settle- 
ment, Colonel Isaac Bledsoe's, near Bledsoe's Lick. 
The population for some miles down consisted of 
a narrow string between the river and the ridge. 
Indeed, there was then no population on the south 
side of Cumberland River, Nashville and a very 
small part of the adjacent country excepted. 
There were but four regular preaching-places on 
that side of the river, although the preachers 
aimed so to regulate their stages that all the 
inhabitants of the country should have circuit- 
preaching convenient to them. I do not remem- 
ber a single instance of their refusing to visit 
any neighborhood, nor even any station, on ac- 
count of danger, though in some instances guards 

Methodism in Tennessee. 81 

met them, where risk was thought to be uncom- 
monly great. 

" I find in my old journal the following, viz. : 
'As I had no company on Monday, July 18th, I 
yielded to persuasion, and deferred riding up to 
Colonel Sanders's until the next day ; and perhaps 
it was well I did, for, not far to the right of the 
way I must have gone, the Indians fired upon 
four persons that evening, and killed Mr. Jones.' 
Again : ' Thursday, August 4th. — The guard did not 
meet me at Mr. Hogan's, according to promise, 
so I tarried here till Saturday,' etc. 

" I happened to be in the same part of the cir- 
cuit when a man, much beloved — Major George 
Winchester — was killed, in the neighborhood of 
the place where Gallatin now stands. 

" In one case the hand of God has appeared to 
me so evident in my preservation, that I cannot 
think it improper to give you the circumstances 
in detail. I have told you that Clarksville was 
the extreme point of the settlement down the 
river. Mr. Denning's, where I put up, Avas the 
upper house in the place — a cabin, standing fifty 
or sixty yards, I conjecture, from any other, near 
the bank, having the door fronting the river. Being 
much engaged with a book that had just fallen 
into my hands, when others had retired to rest 
one night, I again sat down to read, with my face 

toward the door, the table upon which my candle 


82 k Methodism in Tennessee. 

was placed standing by the wall, between me and 
the door. Observing that the door was not closely 
shut, I rose, shut and bolted it, or rather barred 
it, and again sat down to my book till quite late. 
The next day I preached in one of the cabins in 
the town, (as it was even then called,) intending 
to spend the following night at Mr. Denning's, for 
the purpose of reading; but a young gentleman 
having come about fifteen miles in order to ride 
with me that afternoon, I changed my purpose, 
and w T ent on with him. That very night the In- 
dians attacked the house of Mr. Denning. Firing 
in at the door, which was standing a little open, 
(as it had stood the preceding night,) they shot a 
Mr. Boyd, who was sitting, or in some way rest- 
ing, on the table, standing in the very place where 
it had stood when I sat reading at the end of it. 
It afterward appeared (the Indians relating it 
themselves to a white man with whom they were 
acquainted, and whom they met in the Spanish 
territory, where they were professedly at peace) 
that they had crossed the river the night before 
on purpose to murder the people in that house ; 
but growing fearful that there were too many men 
in it, they shrunk from the attempt, lay concealed 
all the next clay, and at night rose and made the 

" Had I tarried there that night, as I had de- 
signed to do, if Mr. Pennington had not come to 

Methodism in Tennessee. 83 

meet me, I had in all likelihood been their mark, 
sitting, with my breast toward them, on the op- 
posite side of the candle, within a few feet of the 
muzzles of their guns. And how probable is it, 
that if the door had not been noticed and closely 
shut the preceding night, the light of the candle 
would have invited their approach ! It would 
have shown, at a late hour, both that all was still, 
and that there was a favorable opportunity of look- 
ing in. But the hairs of my head were numbered. 
The Strength of Israel was my refuge!' 

John Sewell,* who traveled the Holston Circuit 
this year, finally settled in Middle Tennessee. 
The following interesting sketch we copy from 
Mr. Carr's Early Times in Middle Tennessee : 

" John Sewell was a native of North Carolina; 
embraced religion when quite young, as I have 
understood. He was from one of the first families 
in that country — a son of old Colonel Benjamin 
Sewell. He moved to this country, and I knew 
him well. At what time John Sewell joined the 
traveling connection I do not know, but I should 
judge it must have been as early as 1787 or 
1788,-)* for he had traveled in North Carolina and 
East Tennessee, as I have been informed ; and he 
accompanied Bishop Asbury, in 1790, on his first 

* The author knew his son, Benjamin P. Sewell, of whom 
more will be said in future, 
tin 1791. 

84 Methodism in Tennessee. 

visit to Kentucky, in company with that noted 
preacher, Hope Hull. Brother Sewell was a man 
of the first order of talents. Not having the 
Minutes of Conference to guide me, I cannot state 
the different circuits that he rode. He emigrated 
to Tennessee about 1797 or 1798, and settled in 
Cage's Bend, in Sumner county He was literally 
worn down by excessive preaching, and was pre- 
disposed to consumption. He labored among us 
faithfully as a local preacher, and took an active 
part, according to his strength, in the great revival 
of 1800. In fact, he was such a favorite of mine 
that I named one of my sons after him. Whether 
he is any better man by that, I cannot tell ; but I 
trust he is none the worse for the name. I have 
a hope that John Sewell Carr may meet John 
Sewell in heaven. About 1801 or 1802, Brother 
Sewell's health so failed him that he was able to 
preach but seldom. The exact date of his death 
I do not recollect, but I believe that he died in 
1804 or 1805 — it might have been later than 
that. There is one circumstance that occurred on 
the day of his death that is worthy of notice. His 
physician was Dr. Hamilton. It was said that 
Dr. Hamilton was a deist. He paid Brother 
Sewell a visit. When he got there, he evidently 
saw that he was dying, and was for hastening off 
immediately Brother Sewell, like a Christian 
philosopher, said to him : ' Stay, doctor, and see 

Methodism in Tennessee. 85 

a Christian die.' It struck Dr. Hamilton with 
such terror that he became dejected, and had 
scarcely any thing to say to anybody. The doc- 
tor was inquired of by his friends what was the 
matter ; his answer was, that the words of that 
good man, Mr. Sewell, were continually ringing 
in his ears, and pierced his heart : e Stay, doctor, 
and see a Christian die ! ' Dr. Hamilton died 
himself some few years afterward. Brother Sewell 
left a wife and a few children. One of his sons, 
Benjamin Sewell, was a Methodist preacher. He 
also died of consumption some twelve or fifteen 
years ago." 

86 Methodism in Tennessee. 


Early fruits — Tobias Gibson — John Page — Stephen Brooks 
— James Ward — William Burke — His sketch of Meth- 
odism in Holston — Bishop Asbury's visit — The Earnest 
family — Letters from Messrs. Earnest and Miles. 

We have already seen some of the ripe fruits 
of early Methodism in the West. Up to this 
date (1792) the reader will perceive that not only 
thousands had been converted, many of whom had 
died in the faith, but that able and distinguished 
preachers had been raised up, who had gone forth 
as flames of fire, spreading light and exerting a 
powerful influence upon the multitudes who flocked 
to hear the gospel as they proclaimed it. This 
year, several preachers were received on trial into 
the Conferences, whose names are household words 
in the West, and whose memories are precious. 
William Burke, Tobias Gibson, and John Page 
deserve to be especially mentioned, as they all 
had intimate connection with the work in Tennes- 
see. The names of Stephen Brooks and James 
Ward occur in connection with the work in 
East Tennessee this year, and merit a special 
notice. The appointments stood thus : Barnabas 

Methodism in Tennessee. 87 

McHenry, Elder; Holston, Salathiel Weeks and 
James Ward ; Green, Stephen Brooks and William 
Burke; New River, David Haggard and Daniel 
Lockett ; Russell, Jeremiah Norman. 

In the West, Francis Poythress is still con- 
tinued Presiding Elder; while John Ball and 
Jonathan Stephenson are on Cumberland Circuit. 

The numbers returned were : Holston, 214 
whites, 13 colored; Green, 226 whites, 8 col- 
ored; Russell, 115 whites, 2 colored; Cumber- 
land, 370 whites, 57 colored. 

The reader cannot be denied the privilege of 
perusing the following long extract from the Auto- 
biography of the late Rev William Burke. Giving 
in detail his history as an itinerant preacher, he 
penned the following in regard to the work in 
Holston : 

" The first preachers that visited that country 
was in the year 1783. It was then called the 
Holston country The head-waters of the South 
Fork of the Holston extended as far east as 
Wythe and the borders of Grayson counties, ex- 
tending west as far as the Three Islands. In this 
tract of country the first preachers began their 
operations. They were Jeremiah Lambert, Henry 
Willis, Mark Whittaker, Mark Moore, and Reuben 

Ellis, the Elder. The District included Salisbury 
and Yadkin Circuits, in North Carolina, and Hol- 
ston in the west. In 1787, the Holston Circuit 

88 Methodism in Tennessee. 

was divided into two circuits — Holston and Noli- 
chucky — and Philip Bruce appointed Elder. Two 
new preachers were sent — Jeremiah Masten and 
Thomas Ware — in 1788. Two new circuits were 
made out of the old ones this year ; the Holston 
Circuit embracing all the settlements on the East 
and North Forks of Holston, and all the settle- 
ments on the Clinch River, including the counties 
of Washington and Russell, in Virginia, and Blount 
county, in the Western territory French Broad 
included all the settlements west and south of the 
main Holston to the frontiers bordering on the 
Cherokee Nation. West New River was this 
year made a circuit, and Greenbrier added, which 
was composed of the new settlements on Green- 
brier River, and part of the head-waters of the 
James River; Edward Morris, Elder. 

u In 1789, John Tunnell was Presiding Elder, 
and Bottetourt Circuit added. In 1790, two Dis- 
tricts were formed : one was composed of West 
New River, Russell, Holston, and Green Circuits — 
Charles Hardy, Presiding Elder. This year John 
McGee and John West were on Green Circuit : 
John West is still living in the bounds of the 
Pittsburgh Conference [1854.] Bottetourt, Green- 
brier, and Kanawha Circuits — Jeremiah Able, 
Presiding Elder. This year the Little Kanawha 
Circuit was formed, and Jacob Lurton was the 
preacher in charge. In 1793, he was on Salt 

Methodism in Tennessee. 89 

River Circuit, Kentucky, and married a Miss 
Tooley, on Bear Grass, Jefferson county, and 
located, and for many years lived on Floyd's Fork 
of Salt River. He was an original genius, and a 
useful preacher. In 1791, Mark Whittaker was 
Presiding Elder, and Charles Hardy and John 
West were on the West New River Circuit. 
Charles Hardy located this year, and the latter 
part of the year I succeeded him. John West 
remained with me on the circuit till the Ilolston 
Conference, on the 15th of May, 1792. Nothing 
material transpired while on this circuit. The 
state of religion was at a low ebb in all the cir- 
cuits. Most of the preachers had not been much 
in the work for several years, and discipline had 
been much neglected. Mr. Asbury, on his return 
from the Kentucky Conference, met the Confer- 
ence at Huffaker's, Rich Valley of Holston, on 
the 15th April, 1792. Hope Hull, who had ac- 
companied him from Georgia, and Wilson Lee, 
who was now returning from Kentucky, and 
accompanying the Bishop on to the East, were 
with him. Both preached at this Conference w 7 ith 
great success. General William Russell, who 
had married the widow of General Campbell, and 
sister of Patrick Henry, who had embraced re- 
ligion, together with his amiable lady, and who 
lived at the salt-works, on the North Fork of 
Holston, attended this Conference and accommo- 

90 Methodism in Tennessee. 

dated a number of the preachers. Upon the 
whole, we had a good time for those days. Ste- 
phen Brooks, from the Kentucky Conference, was 
appointed to Green Circuit, in charge, and I was 
appointed with him, and Barnabas McHenry, who 
came also with the Bishop from Kentucky, was 
the Presiding Elder. We had an entire set of 
new preachers for the whole District — Salathiel 
Weeks and James Ward on the Holston Circuit, 
both from Virginia ; David Haggard, Daniel 
Lockett, and Jeremiah Norman, from North Car- 
olina. Brother Norman was on Russell, and 
Brothers Haggard and Lockett on West New 
River. The Presiding Elder and all the preach- 
ers entered into a covenant to attend strictly to 
the Discipline. When Brother Brooks and my- 
self arrived at our charge, which was in a few 
days after the Conference rose, we mutually 
agreed to enforce the rules of the Society; and 
by midsummer we had the satisfaction of seeing 
a gracious work in many places on the circuit. 

"A very peculiar circumstance took place some 
time in July On Nolichucky there was a rich 
and thickly -settled neighborhood, which after- 
ward went by the name of Earnest's neighbor- 
hood. There was but one Methodist in the 
neighborhood, the wife of Felix Earnest, who 
attended preaching when she could, being about 
five or six miles distant from the appointment. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 91 

Felix was a very wicked man. Being one day at 
a distilllery, and partially intoxicated, the Spirit 
of God arrested him. He immediately went 
home, and inquired of his wife if she knew of 
any Methodist meeting anywhere on that day 
It happened to be the day that Brother Brooks 
preached, in the adjoining neighborhood, and he 
immediately put off for the meeting. He arrived 
there after meeting had begun, and stood in the 
door, with his shirt-collar open, and his face red, 
and the tears streaming down his cheeks. He 
invited Brother Brooks to bring preaching into 
the neighborhood. He did so, and in two weeks 
I came round and preached to a good congregation. 
The word of God had free course, and w T as glori- 
fied. The whole family of the Earnests was 
brought into the Church, with many others, and 
by the first of September we had a large society 
formed. I left the circuit in September, but the 
work continued. In a short time they built a 
meeting-house; and in the spring of 1795, the 
Western Conference had their annual sitting at 
the meeting-house, and Felix was a local preacher. 
Our second quarterly-meeting was in the begin- 
ning of August, at the Pine Chapel, south of the 
French Broad River, and below the mouth of 
Little Pigeon River. It was a good time. It 
was given up by all that it was the best love-feast 
that they had ever seen. On my next round, 

92 Methodism in Tennessee. 

which was in September, the Cherokee war was 
just breaking out. After I crossed the French 
Broad and Little Rivers, and arrived at the ex- 
treme point of the settlement, I found the in- 
habitants in a state of alarm on account of the 
war. I preached that day, and at night the whole 
neighborhood collected, bringing intelligence that 
the Indians were in the settlement. In the morn- 
ing I started for my next appointment, on the 
south bank of Little River, having a guard of two 
brothers, who piloted me through the woods part 
of the way, but becoming alarmed for the safety 
of their families, left me to make the best of my 
way I arrived a little before noon, but found it 
would be impossible to collect a congregation. 
The people were moving in and concentrating at 
a certain point, for the purpose of fortifying, and 
by night we were the frontier house. After dark 
the lights were all put out, and each one sat down 
with his gun on his lap. One of the company 
started about nine o'clock to go where the Indians 
were collected for fortifying, but soon returned, 
and said the Indians were plenty in the neighbor- 

" I immediately determined to make my jour- 
ney to the next preaching-place, which was about 
ten miles, and I was obliged to travel under cover 
of the night ; but I had one difficulty to encoun- 
ter, having nothing but a small path, and the river 

Methodism in Tennessee. 93 

to cross, and an island to reach in the river. The 
night was dark, and the timber very thick on 
the island, and I could not prevail on any of them 
to leave the house, or give me any assistance ; 
however, I put my trust in God and set off. 
After having passed the first part of the river, I 
alighted from my horse, and undertook to keep 
the path on foot. I succeeded beyond my ex- 
pectation, reached the shore at the proper point, 
and proceeded without meeting with any difficulty - 
About two o'clock I arrived at the house, where 
my appointment was for that day, proceeded to 
the door, and sought admittance, but found no 
inmates. I knew there were cabins on the op- 
posite side of a marsh, and I commenced halloo- 
ing as loud as I could. I soon brought some of 
them out, who wished to know who I was, and 
what I wanted. They suspected that the Indians 
wished to decoy them, and were preparing to give 
me a warm reception of powder and lead, when 
the lady, at whose house we preached, came out 
and knew my voice. They then came over and 
conducted me to the place where the whole neigh- 
borhood was collected, and the next day I re- 
crossed the French Broad River, which placed me 
beyond the reach of danger. I passed up through 
the circuit, leaving the frontier appointments on 
the south side of the river, which were Pine 
Chapel, Little and Big Pigeon. The first intelli- 

94 Methodism in Tennessee. 

gence I had from that quarter was, that all the 
inhabitants in the neighborhood of the Pine 
Chapel were massacred in one night by the In- 

" The first General Conference in the United 
States met late in the fall of this year. The Pre- 
siding Elder and S. Weeks, from the Holston Cir- 
cuit, both left for the General Conference; and 
the Presiding Elder moved me from Green Circuit 
and put me in charge of the Holston, and sent 
Brother J Ward to fill my place. Brother Ward 
had but moderate talents, but was a devoted and 
good man, and through his instrumentality good 
was done on the Holston Circuit. In the neigh- 
borhood of the salt-works a number had been 
added to the Church. Among the number was 
the heiress, Miss Sally Campbell, daughter of 
General Campbell, who distinguished himself at 
the battle of King's Mountain. Her mother, Mrs. 
Russell, had, for some time, been a member of the 
Church, and was among the most excellent ones 
of the earth. Late in the fall of this year, Gen- 
eral Russell and family made a visit to the eastern 
part of Virginia, among their old friends and rela- 
tions. The General was taken sick and died. 
His daughter, Chloe Russell, had just married a 
circuit preacher by the name of Hubbard Saun- 
ders. During their visit, Miss Sarah Campbell 
was married to Francis Preston. Esq.. of Virginia, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 95 

whose son is now Senator in Congress from South 
Carolina. The surviving part of the family did 
not return during my stay on the circuit. We 
had some good times on our field of labor, at 
Baker's, near the Three Islands, and at Acuff's. 
I remained on the circuit till Christmas, when, by 
the direction of the Presiding Elder, Brother Nor- 
man and myself changed, and I was on Clinch 
Circuit. This was a frontier circuit, the whole 
north side of it being exposed to the savages. 
On this circuit I first began to eat bear meat and 
buffalo tongues. I entered this circuit with a de- 
termination, by the help of God, to have a revival 
of religion, and in some degree succeeded. It was 
a three-weeks' circuit, and I was alone, without 
even a local preacher to help me. Through the 
winter we had a considerable revival at Elk Gar- 
den, head of Clinch River, at Bickley's Station, 
and at several other preaching -places. On the 
last Saturday and Sunday in March, 1793, we 
held our quarterly-meeting at Bickley's Station. 
We had a good time. During the past year we 
had many conflicts — a new country Indian warfare 
going on all the winter on our southern borders. 
The preachers had received about enough quar- 
terage to keep soul and body together. On Mon- 
day morning, after the quarterly-meeting, I started 
for the Annual Conference, which met on the third 
day of April. We met Bishop Asbury and Wil- 

96 Methodism in Tennessee. 

liam Spencer, from the Virginia Conference, and 
Henry Hill, from North Carolina. The Confer- 
ence business concluded on Saturday ; Sunday 
was taken up in preaching; and on Monday 
morning we started for Kentucky Several of 
our friends volunteered to guide us through the 
wilderness. Francis Asbury, Barnabas McHenry, 
Henry Hill, James Ward, and William Burke, 
were all the preachers. These, together with 
some who met us at Bean's Station, on Holston, 
made our company up to sixteen. We were all 
pretty well armed except the Bishop. It was 
about one hundred and. thirty miles through the 
wilderness, with but one house in Powell's Val- 
ley, where we stayed the first night. Next morn- 
ing, by sunrise, we crossed Cumberland Mountain, 
and entered into the bosom of the wilderness."* 

The author has the pleasure of introducing some 
interesting letters addressed to him — one from F. 
W Earnest, Esq., and the others from the Rev. G\ 
W Miles, of the Holston Conference : 

Mr. Earnest, writing from Blountville, East 
Tennessee, April 9, 1869, says : 

"It is with pleasure that I respond to your 
letter inquiring about the connection that the 
Earnest family of East Tennessee had with the 
first Methodism of this State. There is no family 

Sketches of Western Methodism, pp. 28-34. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 9 


in the State more directly connected with the in- 
troduction and growth of Methodism within the 
Holston country than that of which I am a mem- 
ber, as you will see from my statements. 

"My grandfather, Henry Earnest, who was 
born in 1732, moved with his family to what is 
now Greene county, East Tennessee, on the Noli- 
chucky River, in the year 1778 or 1779. At 
this time there were but few families west and 
north of the mountains, and these were com- 
pelled at times to flee their homes to avoid the 
Indians, that were still troublesome in this sec- 

"He had not been here long, however, until 
the faithful itinerant preachers made their ap- 
pearance, and began the work of organizing the 
Church. Among the very first was the Rev. 
Jeremiah Lambert, whose name has been handed 
down to us, and is as familiar as household words. 

" My father, Henry Earnest, Jr., made a pro- 
fession of religion at home in the field at work, 
when he was about nineteen years of age, which 
would be in the year 1790, about which time a. 
society was formed and a church established at 
Ebenezer, on my grandfather's land* Probably 
four- fifths of this first Methodist society con- 
sisted of my Grandmother Earnest and her eleven 

* Mr. Burke places the date earlier. 
vol. i.— 5. 

98 Methodism in Tennessee. 

children, including my father, except one or two 
of the younger children. This is one of the first 
(if not the very first) churches established within 
the limits of East Tennessee, and was built on the 
banks of the Nolichucky River, in one of the most 
beautiful and picturesque spots to be found in all 
that section. The original house, and those who 
erected it, have all passed away, and the one 
erected in its place is fast going to decay My 
grandfather had eleven children, as before stated, 
five of whom were boys, and all of them, with 
one or two exceptions, joined the Methodist 
Church with their mother previous to 1800, thus 
forming in that section a nucleus around which 
the after Church of this section gathered. This 
Earnestville Church was a central point in the 
Holston country, as is evinced by the fact, that at 
this Church, from 1795 to 1821, some six ses- 
sions of the Annual Conferences were held. My 
father and his four brothers (except probably one) 
joined this Church in early life — all of whom lived 
to a ripe old age, and died in the triumphs of the 
gospel. Felix Earnest, his eldest brother, was 
licensed to preach shortly after he professed re- 
ligion, and at the Conference of 1795, held at 
Ebenezer Church, he is spoken of as being pres- 
ent as a local preacher. I find from his ordina- 
tion papers that he was ordained Deacon by 
Bishop F. Asbury on the 16th day of September, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 99 

1806, at a Conference held at Ebenezer, and on 
the 3d day of October, 1825, he was ordained 
Elder, at Jonesboro, East Tennessee, by Bishop 
Soule. He died a local preacher in 1842, at the 
age of eighty years. His son, Stephen Earnest, 
was also licensed to preach at an early age, and 
joined the Holston Conference in the year 1827 
He died in the ministry, loved by all who knew 

" The five brothers referred to, including my 
father, all raised large families in the immediate 
neighborhood of the old church, and nearly all 
joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in early 
life, and have since gone out into the world, 
carrying with them their love for the Church of 
their fathers. 

" Four of the six sisters of my father married 
Methodist preachers, an account of whose labors 
you will get from their descendants, as they were 
all pioneer men in their day The first was the 
Rev Stephen Brooks, who married Anna Earnest, 
and was for more than half a century a Methodist 
preacher. The next was the Bev- George Wells, 
who married Mary Earnest, and only died a few 
years ago, full of years and full of honors. The 
third was the Bev Charles Warren, who married 
Sarah Earnest, and was probably local all his life. 
The fourth, the Bev Mr. Evans, who married 
Elizabeth Earnest, and who died before my time, 

100 Methodism in Tennessee. 

and whose' given name I do not know. These 
persons have all died, with many of their repre- 
sentatives ; but all, or nearly all, are represented 
in the ministry of to-day Two of my Uncle 
Lawrence Earnest's daughters married Methodist 
preachers, and I suppose no two men did more to 
plant and establish Methodism in the country 
than they : I mean the Rev James Axley, who 
married Cynthia Earnest, and his colleague, Enoch 
Moore, who married Elizabeth Earnest. It would 
be useless for me to more than refer to these 
men here, as a Historv of Methodism in Tennes- 
see would be incomplete without a notice of them. 
" One of the largest camp-grounds ever built 
within the bounds of the Holston Conference 
was erected about one or one and a half mile 
from the Ebnezer Church, near what is now Hen- 
derson Depot, on the East Tennessee and Vir- 
ginia Railroad, six miles east of Greenville, Ten- 
nessee. Among the first to erect large and 
comfortable tents at this place were the five Ear- 
nest brothers, who for nearly forty years annually 
left their comfortable homes and farms to spend a 
week or two at the camp-meeting. Thousands 
were converted at this camp-ground, among whom 
were nearly all of the children of the Earnest 
families. Although the camp -ground has been 
abandoned since the commencement of the late war, 
it is too sacrecl a spot to be lost sight of by the 

Methodism in Tennessee. 101 

Church. The name of the place originated from 
a stone-dam across the creek at a mill near by, 
and the name of Stone-dam Camp-ground touches 
many a pleasant chord in the thousands who were 
converted there, as well as the older members of 
the present Holston Conference. Never will I 
forget the solemn manner in which my father 
would invoke Heaven's blessings upon the ap- 
proaching camp-meeting, for the few days preced- 
ing its commencement, as we knelt around the 
family altar. He saw every one of his children 
converted at this camp-ground, who had arrived at 
the age of accountability previous to the time he 
ceased to camp there. 

" I have in my possession the Ebeiiezer class- 
book, commencing with the year 1819, when the 
Rev. James Axley was Presiding Elder on the Hol- 
ston District, and E. K. Moore and J. Cummings 
in charge of the circuit. At this time my Grand- 
mother Earnest, who was then a widow, (grand- 
father having died in 1809,) with my father and 
sixteen other Earnests, were members of this class. 
On this same book, up to 1843, I find the names 
of sixty -nine Earnests who belonged to this 
Church, to say nothing of those who married, and 
thereby- changed their names previous to joining 
the Church. This will clearly indicate the Church- 
relations of the family No minister who has ever 
labored in this section of the country, but has kind 

102 Methodism in Tennessee. 

memories of the family My father married Kitty 
D. Reeve, who, with nearly the entire family of 
her father, were members of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church. My Grandmother Reeve joined 
the first Methodist Church of this country, and 
lived to be very old. The most distinct recollec- 
tion I have of her, is seeing her happy at camp- 
meeting. Two of her daughters married Meth- 
odist preachers. My father and mother, with 
several members of the family, have died, and all 
died most triumphantly I believe I can safely 
say, that of all the deaths in this numerous family 
of Earnests, not one has ever died without leaving 
some hope of a better future ; and, if it would 
honor Methodism any, I would say that, among 
them all down to the present day, I never knew 
one of them to be charged with a crime or misde- 
meanor before the courts of the country. What 
a debt of gratitude we owe our parents for their 
holy lives and teachings ! and if we follow them 
as' they followed Christ, we may, yea, will enjoy 
the same blissful end." 

Mr. Miles writes, Bristol, Tennessee, March 11, 

" The first societies organized in this country 
I find were at the following points : Pine Chapel, 
O'Haver's Meeting-house, Old Bethcar, County 
Line, Carter Station, Ebenezer, Brush Creek, and 
A cuff's Meeting-house. There is a history of 

Methodism in Tennessee. 103 

each of these points full of interest, if we had time 
to get it up. From the best information received, 
it appears that the first society was organized at 
Pine Chapel, in Jefferson county, Tennessee, on 
the south bank of the French Broad River, then 
in the Indian Nation. Emigrants from Virginia 
and North Carolina settled here about the year 
1786. The society was organized in 1787 or '88, 
and composed of John Winton and wife Arabella, 
Amos Lewis and wife Mary, George Lewis and 
wife Rachel, Arabella Cunnyngham and daugh- 
ter Charlotte. John Winton was a local preacher, 
and did much in planting the gospel in this wil- 
derness. He raised a large family — all of whom 
were members of the Methodist Church, and some 
of them were and are preachers. Arabella Cun- 
nyngham was the widow of a Methodist preacher. 
She was a lady of superior mind, acted as class- 
leader in the society. Charlotte (her daughter) 
had (for her time) considerable advantages — was 
deeply pious. In 1791, she was married to George 
Turnley, a gentleman of promise in the com- 
munity, but not a member of the Church. Char- 
lotte was soon summoned before the Church for 
marrying a man out of the society 

" The day of trial came, and she, accompanied by 
her husband, was there. After the case was called, 
and considered for some time, Mr. Turnley pro- 
posed, if it would be any relief to his wife, and 

104 Methodism in Tennessee. 

they would admit him, that he would unite with 
the Church. This was agreed to, and he made a 
faithful and useful member. 

'* Charlotte died in great peace, July 24, 1834. 
Her husband lived till September 3, 1848, when 
he too passed away 

" From this society went the Wintons and 
Cunnynghams, who afterward and to this time 
have places in the Church. Here Bishop Asbury, 
and afterward Bishop Soule, preached. 

u County Line was situated north of the Hol- 
ston River, on the line between Hawkins and Jef- 
ferson (now Grainger.) 

"About the year 1792, a company of Virginians 
settled in this community (Methodists,) and being 
without the means of grace, they united in organ- 
izing a society This was between the years 1792 
and 1795. Among the original members of this 
society were Martin Stubblefield and wife Sallie, 
Richard Thompson and wife Mary, White Moore 
and wife, and John McAnally and wife. These men 
were all mighty in exhortation. Mr. Moore after- 
ward became one of the most useful local preachers. 
From these men descended many traveling and 
local preachers. Their wives, too, labored as 
6 elect ladies ' indeed. Their prayer and class- 
meetings were kept up regularly from house to 
house. Sometimes it would happen that the men 
would all be off in other neighborhoods holding 

Methodism in Tennessee. 105 

meeting : in that event, Sallie Stubblefield would 
lead the meeting, and would often deliver exhor- 
tations. She was gifted in prayer, and at times 
powerful in exhortation. 

" There is one remarkable fact, that all these 
families have been represented in the ministry 
of our Church ever since." 

In a subsequent letter, Mr. Miles gives the fol- 
lowing interesting items : 

" In the year 1785, there was a class organized 
in Sullivan county, near where Blountville now 
stands, and the following year a house of worship 
was built. This, from the best information I can 
get, was the first Methodist Church built in the 
State. A part of the old wall still stands — logs 
20x30. This house being located on the main thor- 
oughfare along which Mr. Asbury traveled, was 
where he preached oftener than elsewhere. He 
mentions in his Journal 'Acuff's Chapel.' The 
society was composed chiefly of emigrants from 
Virginia, among whom were the Acuffs, Hamil- 
tons, Vincents, and Crafts. Here Granade for 
the first time preached in Tennessee. It seems 
that about the year 1790, it was announced that 
a stranger, ( the wild man,' would preach at Acuffs 
Chapel on a certain day The day arrived, and 
with it a vast concourse of people were assembled, 
anxiously awaiting the appearance of the ' wild 

man.' At length Mr. Granade came, and after 

lOfr Methodism in Tennessee. 

spending a little time in the grove near by, came 
forth shouting and praising God. The effect was 
wonderful on the congregation. He told the 
people that he had been driving the devil before 
him for three hundred miles, he (the devil) 
closely contesting every inch, till in the grove, 
just up there, (pointing with his finger to the hill 
whence he came,) e I obtained a complete victory 
over his infernal majesty He is now routed in 
complete disorder, and I, thank God, have the 
field without a rival !' Then announcing his text, 
he proceeded to preach the ' unsearchable riches 
of Christ !' 

" The meeting was protracted, for ten days with 
great effect. Scores of mourners crowded the 
mourner s bench — the first time they had heard of 
such a thing. At this meeting Francis Acuff was 
converted ; he entered the traveling connection 
two years later, and died in great peace, (if I mis- 
take not,) in Kentucky, 1797 or 1798. 

" In fact, this was the beginning of the 6 won- 
derful revival' that spread all over Upper East 
Tennessee in the years 1790-91, from which 
so many of the old preachers were gathered as 
the fruit. 

" Where Mr. Granade went, and where he was, 
from this year until 1801-2, when his name ap- 
pears as appointed to the work, I do not know. 

" It is said by one of the historians of Tennes- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 107 

see, that Dr. Doak, a Presbyterian clergyman, 
brought the ' jerks' to Tennessee, and that 
Mr. Granade, a Methodist minister, brought the 
' shouts.' I suppose this is true. 

"At Old County Line, Miss Mary Etter was 
converted, and joined the Church in 1807 She 
was afterward the wife of Jesse Cunnyngham, 
and mother of Dr. W Gr. E. Cunnyngham, our 
late missionary to China. 

" Prominent among the first Methodists of East 
Tennessee was Edward Cox ; in fact, he was the 
first Methodist of whom I have been able to learn 
any thing. 

" Mr. Cox was born in Baltimore county, Mary- 
land, in the year 1750. Of his parents we know 
but little : all that is known is taken from what is 
remembered of Mr. Cox's reference to his father 
and mother. They were among the first adherents 
to Methodism in Maryland, and opened the doors 
of their humble home for Methodist preaching in 
the days of Mr. Asbury's first work in Maryland. 
In the year 1773, Mr. Cox and family, including 
Edward, were converted and received into the 
Church by Mr. Asbury. Soon after his conver- 
sion, Edward left his father's house for the West, 
traveled through Virginia, and stopped in the 
vicinity of where Bristol now stands. In this 
country he remained two years. He entered a 
valuable section of land on the north bank of the 

108 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Holston River, in what is now called Sullivan 
county, Tennessee, (then in North Carolina.) 

" He had left behind him one that had agreed 
to share his fortunes, whenever he thought proper 
to return to Maryland. He consequently returned 
to his father's house in the winter of 1775, and, 
after staying just long enough to have the banns 
published, was united in marriage to Sallie Mere- 
dith, a lady of great fortitude and extraordinary 
native intellect. Every necessary arrangement 
had been made beforehand, and, the morning after 
their marriage, the bride and bridegroom set out 
for the wilds of North Carolina, (now Tennessee.) 
Edward had a fine horse, and Sallie's father 
mounted her on one equally fine. With saddle- 
bags and sacks crammed, these young adventurers 
traveled about six hundred miles, and settled in 
the deep forests of what is now called East Ten- 
nessee, not far from the Virginia line. Here Mr. 
Cox soon opened a little land for cultivation, and 
reared a comfortable cabin for a residence. 

" But I will return to an item of interest in the 
history of this family. When Edward left for the 
West the first time, he pledged himself to pray 
for Sallie's conversion, she in the meantime ear- 
nestly desiring to flee from the wrath to come. 
During his absence she was happily converted, 
and received into the Church by Mr. Asbury- 
Thus' God had graciously prepared this noble 

Methodism in Tennessee. 109 

couple for the work and destiny that awaited 
them, in the extension of the Redeemer's king- 
dom among the rude inhabitants of the Western 

" The first evening they pitched their tents in 
the forest, upon their own homestead, Edward and 
Sallie raised their family altar, and there afresh 
consecrated themselves and all they had to God; 
nor did they ever take therefrom that which they 
then and there laid thereon. This first prayer by 
a Methodist family in Tennessee was offered upon 
a little hill near where the East Tennessee and 
Virginia Railroad now passes, about one mile 
north-east of Union Depot. 

" The Revolutionary War soon broke out ; and 
though Mr. Cox was a decided Whig, he thought 
that the position of himself and family was such 
as to justify him in staying at home to protect 
his wife and child. Especially was this demanded, 
as they were then on the frontier, and exposed to 
the ravages of hostile Indians. The war went on, 
and increased in magnitude and fury, until Mr. 
Cox felt that every arm was needed in the estab- 
lishment of American independence. Nor was 
Sallie unwilling to make the sacrifice. She said : 
' Go, Edward, and fight for independence ; if need 
be, die for liberty ! God will take care of me and 
the child.' He enlisted, and continued in the ser- 
vice until the war ended, leaving his family "in a 

110 Methodism in Tennessee. 

wild, hostile country, with but here and there a 
settlement of whites. These united, and erected 
a fort near Mr. Cox's residence, in which the few 
men that remained would gather the women and 
children at night for protection. Depredations 
became so common in this section, that General 
Washington sent a detachment of soldiers to de- 
fend the settlements in Western Virginia. Among 
the soldiers thus sent was Edward Cox, who knew 
the country, and who felt a special interest in it, 
as here his Sallie and child still lived. For sev- 
eral nights before the soldiers arrived, the Indians 
had been roaming over the settlement without let 
or hinderance. Several women. and children had 
been murdered and scalped. Sallie escaped by 
taking her child and leaving her cabin after dark, 
and spending the night in the stack-yard, between 
two stacks of grain that stood closely together. 
The savages were all through the yard, and plun- 
dered the house, but God preserved the lives of 
the mother and child. 

" The next day the news spread all over the 
settlement that regular soldiers had arrived at 
Fort Wommack, for the protection of the inhab- 
itants. Sallie heard it, and, with her child, set 
out for the fort, principally for protection, but 
hoping to get some news from her husband, of 
whom she had heard nothing for long and perilous 
months past. 

Methodism in Tennessee. Ill 

"As she neared the fort, imagine her joyous 
surprise when, coming out from a group of bronzed 
and dirty soldiers, her own dear Edward advanced 
to meet her! His praise to God was heard 
throughout the entire encampment : his joy was 
past expressing, especially as he had been told, 
since he came to the fort, that his wife and child 
had been murdered the night before. 

" That night, when all was calm in the fort, 
Mr. Cox proposed to his fellow-soldiers, and his 
old neighbors, that they offer up thanks to God 
for his goodness. The proposition was agreed to. 
There being none present who were professors of 
religion, but Mr. Cox and wife, he conducted the 
services by singing and prayer While he was 
praying, the Spirit of the Most High came down. 
Sallie was made to shout the praise of God, many 
were convicted, and not a few were crying for 
mercy They continued to sing, and pray, and 
shout all night, Sallie alternating with him in 
prayer. Several were converted, among whom 
was a noble young lady (Barsha Cobb) who had 
been brought to the fort for protection. Barsha 
was afterward very zealous in the service of God. 
Mr. Cox, though not an officer in the Church, took 
the responsibility to receive the lady and several 
others as candidates for membership in the Church. 
In fact, this he continued to do all through life, 
though never more than a class-leader. 

112 Methodism in Tennessee. 

" The war passed away, and American inde- 
pendence came. Mr. Cox returned to his home, 
and continued his work as a farmer. He soon 
opened his house for his neighbors, in which to 
meet and worship God on the Sabbath-day He 
would conduct the meetings — sing, pray, and ex- 
hort — and Sally would get happy and shout. 
These meetings became so famous, that persons 
would go twenty-five miles to spend the Sabbath 
with these servants of God. Many were con- 
verted, and gave their names to Mr. Cox as 
• members of the Church,' he promising to do all 
he could to get a preacher to take charge of them 
and administer to them the sacraments of the 
Church ; indeed, it is said that Mr Cox himself, 
having been a professor of religion now for many 
years, and his wife, without the privilege of tak- 
ing the sacrament of the Lord's -supper, did at 
different times consecrate the elements, accord- 
ing to the Ritual, and administer the sacrament 
to those who c desired to flee from the wrath 
to come.' 

" The preachers came at last. Who was the 
first, or at what time they began to preach, we 
cannot tell; but among the first was the great 
itinerant, Bishop Asbury. On his first trip 
' through the wilderness,' he found the rude cabin 
of his former young friends, Edward a id Sallie 
Cox. He tarried and rested Avith them. Subse- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 11 8 

quently he never passed them without giving 
a call, and several times he preached in their 
house — at one time held a Conference there. The 
preachers all boarded with Mr. Cox, lodging in his 
barn, except Bishop Asbury, who lodged in the 
house of Mr. Cox, where the room was filled with 
ladies. The Bishop's bed was separated from the 
large room by hanging sheets around, making him 
a private apartment. Mr. Cox was a man of 
mighty faith, living in constant communion with 
God. This gave him unusual power over the 
hearts of sinners. He has been known to com- 
mence talking with a sinner on the subject of his 
soul's interests, break into a flood of tears, call his 
friend to his knees, and pray with him till he was 

" For many years, when the Methodist preach- 
ers first held camp-meetings in East Tennessee, 
Mr. Cox would take his wagon and team and go 
for many miles to those meetings, taking a load 
of the young people of his community, and return 
them home converted. On one occasion he took 
two daughters of a wicked neighbor, among several 
others, to a camp-meeting, and returned with them 
all converted. The two girls went home shouting 
the praises of God. The father was much en- 
raged at the scene, and threatened to wreak ven- 
geance on ' Ned Cox' at sight. Some days passed, 
when he met Mr. Cox in the road, and commenced 

114 Methodism in Tennessee. 

his abuse, with threats of violence. Mr. Cox heard 
him for a time, and commenced talking to him of 
the responsibility he assumed by throwing diffi- 
culties in the way of his children, instead of help- 
ing them in the service of God. He told him that 
God would bring him to judgment for his conduct, 
and closed by looking him in the face and break- 
ing into tears, appealing to him to give God his 
heart, and go with his children to heaven, instead 
of trying to take them with him to hell. The 
man fell on his knees in the road, and begged Mr. 
Cox to pray for him, which he gladly did. In a 
short time he was happily converted, and arose 
and returned to his house in company with Mr. 
Cox, praising God at the top of his voice. 

" Mr. Cox was a man of enlarged views of 
Christian beneficence, for the times in which he 
lived. He was not penurious in the support of 
the Church ; but, from the early days of the in- 
troduction of Methodism in this country, he con- 
tributed largely to the support of the ministry, 
and gave annually the proceeds of the sale of the 
best ox in his herd to the missionary cause. This 
he did as long as he was able to carry on his farm; 
and when too old and feeble to do this, he would 
take ten dollars annually from his pension-money 
and give it to the cause of missions, besides pay- 
ing liberally for the support of the gospel at home. 

"At one time, when old and infirm, a young 

Methodism in Tennessee. 115 

man of his neighborhood was converted. He soon 
felt that he was called to the office and work of 
the ministry; but he was poor, had but little edu- 
cation, and no outfit for a traveling preacher, and 
was, of course, much discouraged. The friends 
of the young man at length thought of a wealthy 
neighbor of his, who was then quite prominent in 
the Church, and seemed to want to be foremost in 
good works. They approached him, and asked 

him to assist in getting an outfit for Brother 

to join the Conference. The wealthy neighbor at 
once said, that God had never called that man to 
any thing but to make rails, that he wanted sev- 
eral hundred rails made, and requested them to 
tell the young man to go at that, and he would 
give him twenty-five cents per hundred. This dis- 
couragement had well-nigh driven the young man 
to abandon the hope of getting to his work, when 
Mr. Cox (then known as Uncle Neddy) heard of 
it, sent for the young man, comforted him with 
words of commendation, and, taking him to the 
barn-yard, told him to take the best young horse, 
gave him means to purchase a saddle and other 
equipage, and said to him : e Go, do the work you 
are called to do, and the only recompense I desire 
is, never to do any thing that may bring reproach 
upon the sacred office of the ministry.' 

" The young man did go, and has been going 
ever since, and is likely to do so for years to come. 

116 Methodism in Tennessee. 

His voice has been heard in almost every valley, 
and upon nearly every mountain, in the Holston 
Conference. He stands in the front rank of that 
noble band of Christian heroes known as Holston 

" Edward Cox lived to a good old age, and died 
at his residence, in Sullivan county, Tennessee, 
in 1852, aged one "hundred and two years. He 
went to meet his wife, Sallie, who had preceded 
him to the kingdom but a few years." 

Mr. Burke was a man of superior talents, and 
of great power in the pulpit. He continued in 
the traveling connection till the year 1821, filling 
many of the most important appointments in the 
Church. He spent much of his time as Presiding 
Elder on large and popular Districts. Finally he 
became a superannuated member of the Ohio 
Conference, but, according to the Minutes, was 
expelled in 1821. What the charges presented 
against Mr. Burke were, the author is not fully 
prepared to say, but there was nothing involving 
his moral character. Mr. Burke continued to 
preach, having formed an independent Methodist 
Church in the city of Cincinnati. He was at one 
time elected mayor of the city, and for a term of 
years served as postmaster in Cincinnati. He was 
highly respected by all classes of his fellow-citi- 
zens, and maintained to the last an excellent rep- 
utation as a Christian and a minister. At the 

Methodism in Tennessee. 117 

General Conference of 1836, which convened in 
Cincinnati, a communication was received from 
Mr. Burke and read, when, on motion of the Rev. 
T. L. Douglass, the Secretary of the Conference, 
it was " Resolved, that, in order to facilitate Wil- 
liam Burke's reunion with the Church, the Ohio 
Annual Conference is hereby respectfully recom- 
mended, at its next session, to restore the said 
William Burke to his former ministerial standing 
in the Methodist Episcopal Church, if said Confer- 
ence should think it expedient to do so." This 
request met a hearty response from the Ohio Con- 
ference, and Mr. Burke resumed his position in 
the Church of his early love. The writer remem- 
bers well the interest taken in this case by Bishop 
Soule, who had confidence in the integrity and 
purity of Mr. Burke. Though an aged man, Mr. 
Burke lived a number of years after this reunion. 
He maintained an unblemished reputation, and 
died in peace. In the separation between the 
North and the South, in 1844, he took position 
with his Southern brethren, and died a member 
and minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 

Another prominent and useful minister in the 
early history of Tennessee was the Rev Stephen 
Brooks.* He traveled with William Burke, and 

* Of Mr. Brooks, and many of his contemporaries in East 
Tennessee, we have a most interesting account in a com- 

118 Methodism in Tennessee. 

was the senior preacher on the Green Circuit in 
1792. In 1793, he located and settled in East 
Tennessee, and became a prominent man in the 
State. Mr. Carr, in his Early Times in Middle 
Tennessee, says : 

" This eminent man of God was with us in 
1792, if my memory fail me not. He labored 
faithfully, patiently enduring hardships and perils 
incident at that day, warning sinners to flee from 
the wrath to come. I know nothing relative to 
his parentage and early life. He was universally 
beloved by all who knew him. He was a man of 
excellent sense, gentlemanly deportment, and one 
of the first order of ministers. His labors were 
owned and blessed of God by the turning of many 
from darkness to light. Indeed, he was such a 
favorite with the people, that I heard my brother- 
in-law, Wilson Cage, say that if he had to hear 
but one sermon before dying, he would choose 
Stephen Brooks to preach it. I think he settled 
in East Tennessee. He was one of the dele- 
gates, in 1796, who framed our State Constitu- 


The following letter, dated Greene county, Ten- 
nessee, June 15, 1869, details several very inter- 
esting facts in the history of this great and good 

munication from an esteemed friend, Colonel William Gar- 
rett, of Alabama, which will appear in its proper place, in 
a succeeding volume. 

Methodism in , Tennessee. 119 

man. It was written by his son, the Rev. Jacob 
F. Brooks. 

"My father, the Rev Stephen Brooks, was 
born February 18, 1764, on Cape Hatteras, North 
Carolina. When he was quite young, his father, 
Stephen Brooks, removed to Hide county, North 
Carolina, and settled near Mattamuskeet. He 
was brought up a High-churchman ; was educated 
for a sea-faring life ; spent some time at sea, and 
obtained a captain's commission. 

" While young, through the instrumentality of 
a young Methodist minister, probably Israel Wat- 
son, he became convicted of sin, and one night, 
while alone in his father's corn-field, he obtained 
the pardon of his sins, but he did not let it be 
known at the time. Not many nights after, there 
was a prayer-meeting held at his father's, and 
during its progress he was observed to be under 
religious excitement : he was called on to pray, 
and while praying, his father, mother, brothers, 
and sisters were awakened, obtained religion, and 
joined the Methodist Church. He soon after 
abandoned the sea, obtained license to preach, and 
set out in the work of the ministry In the year 
1789, he went to Newbern, North Carolina, where 
he was admitted into the Conference, and imme- 
diately set out in company with Bishop Asbury 
for Kentucky, passing through Upper East Tennes- 
see and Cumberland Gap to the Lexington Circuit. 

120 Methodism in Tennessee. 

"In the year 1790, lie was on the Danville 
Circuit. In 1791, he was admitted into full con- 
nection, and labored in Middle Tennessee. In 
1792, he was on the Green Circuit, in East Ten- 
nessee. While on this circuit he c broke down,' 
and located. On the 26th of March, 1793, he 
was married to Anna Earnest. After his mar- 
riage, he settled in Greene county, East Tennes- 
see, on a small stream near the place where the 
old Stone-dam Camp-ground was afterward erected. 
November 1, 1797, his wife died. On the 6th of 
January, 1800, he was married to a second wife, 
Margaret Whittenberg. In 1801, he removed some 
eight miles distant, and settled on a considerable 
tract of land on Nolichucky River, five miles 
south of Greenville, where he lived and died. 
His wife died January 20, 1854, and he, January 
1, 1855. 

"While he was at Newbern attending the Con- 
ference, where he was admitted on trial, when the 
Conference was about coming to a close, he ap- 
proached Bishop Asbury and asked where he was 
appointed to work. The Bishop inquired his 
name, and on hearing it, put his arm around 
his neck and said, 'You will go with me to 
Kentucky,' and asked him if he was not afraid the 
Indians would kill him. He replied, ' If they kill 
one part, they cannot kill the other.' W T hile he 
was in Kentucky, the Indians were very trouble- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 121 

some — killed a great many people, and did much 
other mischief. He was guarded frequently from 
fort to fort to preach to the people, but God merci- 
fully preserved him, so that he never came in con- 
tact with any Indians, or even saw one. During 
the years of his itineracy, he was most of the time 
on the frontier; was much exposed; often camped 
out at night, or slept in open houses, and by hard 
labor laid the foundation for a great deal of suf- 
fering and affliction in after life. After his loca- 
tion, he labored hard and preached much with 
acceptance. Many souls were brought to God 
under his ministry in East Tennessee. 

"His house was a resting-place for the weary 
itinerants. In the fall of 1833, the wife of the 
Rev. Creed Fulton died at his house. He gave a 
lot of land for the erection of a meeting-house and 
burying-ground. He now sleeps in this grave- 

" The Earnest family, into which my father in- 
termarried, are well and favorably known in this 
country as Methodists. There were two preach- 
ers among them. Felix Earnest, a brother-in-law 
to my father, was a local preacher. Stephen 
Brooks Earnest, a son of Felix, was for several 
years a traveling preacher in the Holston Confer- 
ence : he is dead. 

" The Whittenberg family, into which he mar- 
ried the second time, were among the first Meth- 

VOL. i. — 6 

122 Methodism in Tennessee. 

odists that settled in this country, and were 
staunch supporters of the Church. There were 
three local preachers among them, namely, Chris- 
topher, Wesley, and Isaac. Christopher is still 

" My father had twelve children — two by his 
first wife, and ten by his last. Henry was drowned 
when he was fifteen years old. The rest all lived 
to be grown, and became pious while young, and 
all were members of the Methodist Church. Har- 
rison died at thirty -one; he was an exhorter; 
died triumphantly Mary intermarried with John 
K. Harris, and brought up eight children; lived 
to see them all converted, and then died in peace. 
The rest are still living and striving for the king- 
dom of heaven. Two of the sons became preach- 
ers. Asbury, who was a member of the Holston 
Conference for seven years, was very acceptable ; 
he then became afflicted ; he is now a local elder in 
the Church, South, but is still under affliction. 
Jacob F Brooks is a local elder, and has been 
preaching thirty-seven years — he trusts with some 
degree of success. All my father's grandchildren 
— thirty-six in number — who have arrived at suf- 
ficient age, are pious, save one. There are among 
these three preachers : Joshua S. Brooks, son of 
William Brooks, a member of the Holston Confer- 
ence four years ; he is now located, and preaches 
with great zeal and acceptability. Stephen H. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 123 

Brooks, son of Asbury Brooks, is a Baptist 
preacher; and Stephen J. Harrison, son of John 
K. Harrison, is a deacon in the Holston Confer- 
ence of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 

"There were two popular camp -grounds in 
Greene county — Salem, or Stone-dam, and Carter's 
Station : Salem, in the east part of the county, six 
miles above Greenville ; Carter's Station, eight 
miles west of Greenville. The one at the Station 
was erected probably in the year 1822 or 1823. 
At this many souls have been converted, who are 
now in heaven, and many are still on their way- 
I think it probable that the first camp -ground 
laid out in East Tennessee was Stone-dam. This 
occurred about the year 1800 or 1805. It had 
rotted down, and had gone before the year 1818. 
That year there was a new camp-ground erected 
at Stone-dam. My father yearly camped there 
with his family There has been much good done 
on that consecrated ground. It was there all his 
children but one were converted and joined the 
Church. It was there that the writer, in 1820, 
obtained religion, and gave his hand to the Rev 
James Axley to join the Church." 

James Ward was admitted on trial in 1792, 
and, as we have seen, was appointed to the Hol- 
ston Circuit. In 1793, he traveled the Salt 
River Circuit, in Kentucky ; from thence he has 
transferred to the work east of the mountains, 

124 Methodism in Tennessee. 

where he spent many years. In 1807, he was 
returned to Kentucky, and in 1808, upon the 
election of William McKendree to the Episcopal 
office, he was assigned to the Cumberland Dis- 
trict as Mr. McKendree's successor. His field 
embraced a portion of Middle Tennessee and 
Southern Kentucky, and extended into Illinois 
and Missouri. Mr. Ward was a faithful and very 
useful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. He 
continued to labor both in the itinerant and 
local ranks as long as he had physical strength 
for the work, and finally died a member of the 
Baltimore Conference, near Floydsburg, Kentucky, 
in April, 1855, in his eighty-fourth year, having 
been a minister of the gospel nearly sixty-three 
years. He was a good man, and left the savor 
of a good name. His son, the Rev J. G. Ward, 
is at the time of this writing (1869) an esteemed 
member of the Little Rock Conference of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 

Mrs. Burke, one of the " elect ladies," deserves 
a page in history With pleasure we copy the 
following from the Western Christian Advocate, 
June 17, 1842 : 

Died, March 6, 1842, Mrs. Rachel Burke, 
consort of the Rev William Burke, of Cincinnati. 
It may riot be generally known that this lady and 
her family were among the early pioneers of the 

Methodism in Tennessee. 125 

West. Her father, Abraham Cooper, of Culpep- 
per county, Virginia, was a man of undaunted 
fortitude and resolution. He came to the deter- 
mination to move with his family, and settle in 
Kentucky, then a part of Virginia. They accord- 
ingly left the land of their nativity, and arrived on 
the frontier settlements in Russell county, where 
he took up his residence at Bleckley's Station, on 
Clinch River, there being no opportunity to pass 
the wilderness in safety, from the incursions of 
the Indians. Here he remained for several years. 
In the fall of 1782, he determined to move for 
Kentucky; and early one morning he, in com- 
pany with his son John, went out with the inten- 
tion of getting the horses and cattle together, 
preparatory to their journey When but a short 
distance from the fort, they were both killed and 
scalped by the Indians, and soon afterward 
brought into the fort by their friends. The sub- 
ject of this memoir was thus left fatherless, 
in care of a widowed mother : the remainder of 
the family were two sons and seven daughters : 
Rachel was the youngest, and was born on the 
12th of April, 1773. The widow, with part of 
her family, returned to Henry county, where they 
remained some time, and then went back to Bleck- 
ley's Station. She was among the first that 
joined the Methodist Society in that country 
Here she remained until the fall of 1790, when 

126 Methodism in Tennessee, 

her oldest son, Christopher Cooper, together with 
several sons-in-law, moved to Cumberland, and 
settled in Nashville, then called Mero District, 
composed of the counties of Davidson, Sumner, 
and Robertson. Nashville was at that time within 
six miles of the frontier station, in which neigh- 
borhood they lived during the Cherokee war of 
1792, 1793, and 1794. The spring of 1795 ter- 
minated that war. In this exposed situation the 
ministers of the cross in the Methodist Connection 
proclaimed the glad tidings of salvation. Our 
sister was privileged to sit under the ministry of 
Wilson Lee of precious memory- She was brought 
to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Christ 
Jesus, joined the Methodist Church, and was 
among the first-fruits of that wilderness country - 
In the spring of 1795, the Rev. William Burke 
was appointed to the charge of Cumberland Cir- 
cuit, and soon became acquainted with Rachel 
Cooper, whose praise was then in all the Churches, 
renowned among the brethren for her exemplary 
piety and Christian deportment; and on the 9th 
day of January, 1796, they were united in mar- 
riage, in Sumner county, Tennessee. From the 
commencement of their union, she felt no disposi- 
tion to prevent him continuing as an itinerant. 
In the spring of 1796, they started to attend the 
Annual Conference at Holston. In order to reach 
this point, they had to pass a wilderness of one 

Methodism in Tennessee. 127 

hundred and fifty miles, and to encamp in the 
open air several nights without any covering. 
When they arrived at Conference, they were re- 
ceived very coldly; for be it known, at that 
period it was considered little short of a crime for 
a Methodist preacher to marry, and no provision 
being made for a preacher's wife, it was consid- 
ered next to impossible for him to remain in the 
traveling connection, their allowance being only 
$60 a year ; but they determined to persevere in 
the good work, and secured an appointment to 
Guilford Circuit, North Carolina, in the bounds 
of the Virginia Conference. In 1797, he was 
appointed to Holston Circuit, and traveled Hol- 
ston and Clinch united. In 1798, he traveled 
Cumberland again, where Sister Burke had the 
opportunity of seeing her mother, and being with 
her in her last moments, and administering to her 
comfort. In 1799, he traveled Danville Circuit, 
Kentucky In 1800, he was appointed to Hink- 
stone Circuit, and had the whole District to attend. 
Here Sister Burke suffered many privations : she 
labored with her own hands, spinning and weav- 
ing such clothes as were needed for herself and 
others ; and in numerous instances was in weari- 
ness and want — thankful to obtain a little bread 
and milk, often supping upon parched corn, and 
making theiu bed on the cold ground, with the 
saddle-bags for their pillow. In 1801 and 1802, 

128 Methodism in Tennessee. 

he traveled Hinkstone and Lexington united, at 
which time they first began housekeeping in 
Lexington, where they had many kind friends. 
In 1803, he was appointed to Limestone Circuit. 
In the fall of 1803, he was appointed Presiding 
Elder, and sent to a District in Ohio, including 
the whole State, and a part of Virginia. During 
the years 1804 and 1805, she endured many 
privations, but bore up under them w T ith Christian 
fortitude. In 1806, 1807, and 1808, he pre- 
sided in Kentucky District. In 1809, he was 
supernumerary on Lexington Circuit. In 1810 
and 1811, on Green River. And in the fall of 
1811, he was appointed to Cincinnati Circuit, 
which included the city In 1812, Cincinnati 
was made a station, and he was the first stationed 
preacher in the city- Here he labored night and 
day, until his health failed. In that year he lost 
his voice, which prevented him from discharging 
his ministerial duties. We mention these travels 
of her husband, in order to show more clearly 
the exercises of our sister, inasmuch as she was 
with him during the time; and it was during 
these seasons that the Lord prepared her for 
greater usefulness. It was in these travels that 
she became acquainted with Bishops Asbury, 
Whatcoat, McKendree, and many others of our 
elder brethren, who have all given such pleasing 
testimony to her usefulness and piety. It was 

Methodism in Tennessee. 1^9 

her great delight to promote the comfort of the 
traveling ministers ; to them she devoted all her 
energies. These facts I obtained myself from 
Bishop McKendree, when he was last in Cincinnati. 
It pleased God to extend her usefulness while 
in Cincinnati, by pouring upon her the horn of 
plenty Prosperous in circumstances, she be- 
came a nursing mother* to the poor and helpless. 
Without ostentation, and living almost unknown, 
she continued to distribute liberally to the last of 
her days. Shortly before her death, she addressed 
me in the following language : Brother, my time 
is come, and I am ready to go. I now discover, 
after we have done all, we are unprofitable ser- 
vants. Bless the Lord for Jesus Christ! He 
is my Saviour, my King, my Shepherd, my Lord, 
and my all. 

Let the world their virtue boast, 

Their works of righteousness : 
I, a wretch undone and lost, 

Am freely saved by grace. 

Yes, brother, 

Other knowledge I disdain : 

'T is all but vanity : 
Christ the Lamb of God was slain: 

He tasted death for me. 
Me to save from endless woe, 

The sin-atoning Victim died •. 
Only Jesus will I know, 

And Jesus crucified. 

T&O Methodism in Tennessee. 

As in life, so in death, she gave evidence of her 
devotion to God. Precious in the sight of the 
Lord is the death of his saints. We can feel 
for the bereavement of our brother, whose loss 
of a faithful companion of nearly half a century 
cannot be made up ; but we sorrow not as those 
without hope. The time is fast approaching when 
all the faithful shall meet •in a world where sick- 
ness and sorrow, separation and death, shall be 
known no more. May the Lord in mercy prepare 
us for the event, that by patient continuance in 
well-doing, we may be ready whenever the Lord 
may call for us ! 

Yours, etc., Robekt Punshon. 

" This year Bishop Asbury again passed through 
the Holston country Entering across the moun- 
tains from North Carolina, east of New River, he 
passed on by way of the salt-works, Abingdon, 
Hawkins Court-house, (Rogersville,) to the Cum- 
berland Gap, and thence to the settlements in 
Kentucky This was about the first of April. 
Early in May, he returned by pretty nearly 
the same route, and on the 13th of the same 
month commenced Conference at HufFaker's, in 
Washington county, Virginia, and then went to 
hold another Conference of preachers at Green- 
brier, a few weeks afterward." * 

* Life and Times of Patton. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 131 


Opposition to Methodism — Still the cause advances — Extra- 
ordinary ability of the early preachers — Progress in the 
South — Hubbard Saunders — Saunders's Chapel — John 
Kobler — A thrilling sketch — Stith Meade — John Kay 
— Slavery and antislavery sentiments. 

As we proceed with our work, (1793,) the reader 
will be impressed with several things that perhaps 
had before escaped his mind. First, he will ob- 
serve that the progress of Methodism in America 
was not only opposed by sin and Satan, but also 
by many who called themselves Christians. Sec- 
ondly, he will observe that, without popular favor 
or Christian sympathy, and despite the hate and 
persecution of their enemies, the work of God, 
through their instrumentality, went forward in a 
most marvelous manner. Thirdly, that not the 
least remarkable fact in the early history of Meth- 
odism in this country, which cannot foil to secure 
the attention of the thoughtful and unprejudiced, 
is the great talent and extraordinary ability of 
many of the early American Methodist preachers : 
like the fathers of our country, they seem to 
have been a peculiar race, raised up, under God, 

132 Methodism in Tennessee. 

for the special work to which they were called. 
Fourthly, it will be observed that many of the 
most distinguished and successful ministers of 
early Methodism were reared in the South. In- 
deed, Methodism seemed to have been admirably 
adapted to the Southern people. Hence in Mary- 
land and Virginia, in the Carolinas and in Georgia, 
the Methodists made much greater progress, for 
many years, than they did in the more northern 
of the original thirteen States. 

If the reader will consult a bound copy of the 
Minutes of the several Annual Conferences, pub- 
lished at the Methodist Book Concern, in New 
York, by order of the General Conference, he will 
see that for many years after the organization of 
the first Conference, nine-tenths of all the Confer- 
ences met in the South; and yet no Methodist 
historian in the North has given fair statements 
of those facts in Methodist history. Dr. Poisal, 
of the Baltimore Episcopal Methodist, referring to 
the history of Methodism in Tennessee, perti- 
nently remarks : 

"It is to be regretted, that in nearly all the 
histories which have been published in this coun- 
try, the Methodism of the South has been either 
ignored or presented in a manner merely incidental 
to this great reformation. In some respects they 
have resembled Southey's Life of Wesley — not, 
indeed, in a literary point of view, but in a sys- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 133 

tematic disregard of the merits, as well as the 
philosophy, of history The picture is sadly de- 
fective, and the moral effect essentially impaired 
by making the subject sectional and arrogating to 
the North almost all that is meritorious in Amer- 
ican Methodism ! This is as unfair as it ( is false 
to the facts of history The men who, under God, 
have effected a moral revolution in the opinions 
and habits of millions of their countrymen, were 
chiefly from the Southern States. Jesse Lee and 
Joshua Wells, the apostles of Methodism to New 
England, were both of the South — the first a Vir- 
ginian, the other a native of Maryland. William 
Watters, Freeborn Garrettson, and George Picker- 
ing, were all sons of our own Maryland. John 
Easter, Edward Drumgoole, and Wilson Lee, were 
natives of Virginia. Let us have a correct history 
of Methodism in Maryland and Virginia, in the 
Carolinas and Georgia. Such a history should be 
written, not from a sectional stand-point, but by 
those who represent the Methodism of our fathers, 
pure and simple, as it came from the halls of Ox- 
ford in the days of the Wesleys. This wonderful 
system is not a human contrivance, but a provi- 
dential arrangement for the spread of scriptural 
holiness through the world. It is a common cause, 
and the Christian public have a right to demand 
an impartial history of such benefactors of the 
race — of the men who have been instrumental in 

134 Methodism in Tennessee. 

arousing a slumbering Church and nation to the 
concerns of true religion." 

In the year 1793 we note the movements of 
Methodism in Tennessee. New River Circuit, 
now mostly in Virginia, returned 278 white and 
17 colored members; Holston, 271 white and 15 
colored ; Green, 266 white and 8 colored ; Cum- 
berland, 270 white and 50 colored. 

In some of the circuits there was at this time 
an increase, in others a decrease, of members. 
This may be accounted for in several ways. First, 
the population was very unsettled in those early 
times; hence many who were members one year, 
were off to the receding frontiers, and conse- 
quently were not returned in the annual report 
for the ensuing year. Secondly, the circuits, in 
their boundary lines, were perpetually changing : 
two or more circuits were made out of one, or one 
portion of the territory might be in one pastoral 
charge one year and transferred to another the 
next year. Thirdly, nor was it to be supposed 
that the ministry were all equally successful, nor 
that the same ministers were alike successful each 
and every year. Many too, in revivals, were like 
stony-ground hearers, and did not endure long. 
The work on the Cumberland Circuit was retarded 
by the leaven of the O'Kellyites, which entered 
into the ministry to some extent, and distracted 
the membership for a season; but it was ulti- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 135 

mately purged out, and the Church went on to 

The Annual Conference from which the preach- 
ers were sent out for the year 1793, was held, 
says Mr. Burke, at McKnight's, on the Yadkin 
River, North Carolina. The Appointments for 
Tennessee were: — Holston, John Simmons and 
Stith Meade ; Green, Samuel Rudder and John 
Ray; New River (still partly in Tennessee and 
partly in Virginia), Jacob Peck; Cumberland, 
Henry Birchett. John Kobler was Presiding 
Elder in Holston, and Francis Poythress still pre- 
sided in Cumberland, his District reaching into 
Kentucky — lying, in fact, mostly in that State. 

This Avas Mr. Birchett's last vear in the minis- 
try. The following, from the General Minutes 
of 1794, is the official notice of his death, with 
a few very interesting remarks accompanying : 

" Henry Birchett — from Brunswick county, 
State of Virginia ; between five and six years in 
the ministry — was a gracious, happy, useful man, 
who freely offered himself for four years' service 
on the dangerous stations of Kentucky and Cum- 
berland. He might have returned at the Ken- 
tucky Conference, 1793, but finding there was a 
probability of Cumberland being vacated by the 
preachers, notwithstanding the pain in his breast 
and spitting of blood, the danger of the Indians 
and prevalency of the small-pox, he went a will- 

136 Methodism in Tennessee. 

ing martyr, after asking the consent of the Bishop 
and the Conference. We hoped his life would 
have been preserved, but report saith he departed 
in peace, at Cumberland, on the Western waters, 
in February, 1794. He w T as one among the wor- 
thies who freely left safety, ease, and prosperity 
to seek after and suffer faithfully for souls. His 
meekness, love, labors, prayers, tears, sermons, 
and exhortations will not be soon forgotten. He 
wanted no appeal from labor, danger, or suffering. 
His willing heart said, with Isaiah, ' Here am I, 
send me.' Notwithstanding the Presiding Elder 
told him he thought it was more than could be 
required of him, expressing his fears of his life, 
his willing heart apparently said, i If I perish, I 
perish.' Thus nobly he for Jesus stood, bold to 
seal the truth and his labors with his blood. This 
was the language of his heart and practice : 

' No cross, no suffering, I decline ; 
Only let all my heart be thine.' 

Who can doubt of his eternal rest, or fail to say, 
' Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my 
last end be like his'?" 

The Rev. William Burke, in his Autobiography, 
pays the following tribute to the memory of this 
faithful and beloved minister of Christ : 

"4n 1791, Henry Birchett was sent from the 
Virginia Conference, and stationed on Lexington 

Methodism in Tennessee. 137 

Circuit; in 1792, on Salt River. On both those 
circuits he was eminently useful. He was very 
zealous, and declined no labor or suffering, but 
offered himself a willing sacrifice to the cause of 
his Redeemer. He was among the first preachers 
in the West who took a deep interest in the rising 
generation. In every neighborhood where it was 
practicable, he formed the children into classes, 
sang and prayed with them, catechised them, and 
exhorted them. For this work he had a peculiar 
turn, and was successful in carrying out his plan 
of instruction. Many years after, I have heard 
the young people in Kentucky and Cumberland 
speak in the highest terms of Henry Birchett. 
At the Conference held at Masterson's Station, in 
May, 1793, our beloved Brother Birchett was in 
a poor state of health. He had labored the pre- 
ceding year on Salt River Circuit, the most ex- 
tensive in the District, requiring more labor and 
suffering than any other in the country Before 
the close of the year, he felt a great weakness in 
his breast, and spitting of blood. At the Confer- 
ence it appeared that Cumberland must be left to 
be provided for hereafter. Brother Birchett said, 
' Here am I, send me.' His friends remonstrated 
against his going. The distance was great ; con- 
siderable danger from Indians ; the small-pox pre- 
vailing in the country — all was urged against his 
going; but, after asking the consent of Bishop 

138 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Asbmy and the Conference, he said, ' If I perish, 
who can doubt of my eternal rest, or fail to say, 
Let me die the death of the righteous-, and let 
my last end be like his' ? He labored with great 
success in Cumberland. Though weak and much 
afflicted in his breast, he held on his way till 
late in the fall, when he was obliged to stop 

" He was a welcome guest at the house of a rich 
planter, two miles west of Nashville, by the name 
of James Hoggatt, where he remained, enjoying 
the hospitality of the family and the visits of his 
numerous friends, till the month of February, 
1794, when he departed this life, in hope of eter- 
nal blessedness in the kingdom of God. At his 
request, he was wrapped in white flannel and 
committed to the silent grave. I often visited his 
grave in 1795 and 1798; but I suppose, since 
that day, strangers are in possession of the prem- 
ises, and every vestige of the spot where he lies 
is obliterated, and, with the exception of a few, 
his name is forgotten." 

Mr. John Carr, in his Early Times in Middle 
Tennessee, gives the following account of Mr. 
Birchett : 

"Henry Birchett was with us in 1793. He 
was from Brunswick county, Virginia. He was 
an excellent preacher, and I do not hesitate in 
saying that I believe he was the most holy, de- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 139 

voted Christian I have ever known. He was a 
man of great faith, of which I will give an example 
that came under my own notice. Once on the 
Sabbath-day, at Norris's Meeting-house, on Big 
Station Camp Creek, he was preaching to a large 
congregation. The preaching was from a stand 
erected in the woods. Soon after he had begun 
his sermon, a most fearful cloud, dark and angry, 
appeared and spread over the heavens, just above 
the heads of the people, and from it issued most 
terrific thunder and lightning. The people be- 
came alarmed, panic-struck, and were in the act 
of scattering from the place. But just then the 
preacher succeeded in gaining their attention, and 
told them to stay and unite with him in prayer to 
God. He bowed, and I have never heard such a 
prayer ! He prayed for the clouds to be dispersed, 
that they might have a peaceable and quiet wait- 
ing upon God. At length, when we arose from 
our knees, the cloud had changed its course, and 
passed away, and we were not interrupted by 
rain. This direct answer to prayer, so evident to 
all, had a most gracious effect upon the congrega- 
tion, even the wicked believing God had heard 
the prayer of the preacher. Thus grexit good was 
done on that day " 

The Rev. Lewis Garrett wrote, that in Feb- 
ruary, 1834, his burial-place could hardly be found: 
it is now totally lost. But when the trumpet 

140 Methodism in Tennessee. 

shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, he will 
come forth clothed with immortality 

The name of Hubbard Saunders occurs in the 
extract from William Burke's Autobiography. He 
was a traveling preacher in early times, and con- 
tinued in the itinerant ranks a few years, and 
was, as we have seen, married to Miss Russell, 
daughter of General Russell, of South-western 
Virginia. He removed to Tennessee, and settled 
in Sumner county, at an early day, and lived to 
an advanced age, laboring all the time as a local 
preacher. Mr. Saunders was of good family, and 
maintained a fine reputation as a citizen and min- 
ister. He was a brother of the Rev. Turner 
Saunders, for many years a citizen of Franklin, 
Tennessee, then of Northern Alabama, and finally 
of Aberdeen, Mississippi, where, a few years prior 
to the time of this writing, he fell asleep in Jesus. 
More will be said of Mr. Turner Saunders before 
this work shall have been completed. 

The Rev Hubbard Saunders brought up a large 
and respectable family, all of whom, at an early 
age, became members of the Methodist Church. 
He was a man of wealth, for those days, and did 
much in support of the cause of Christ. On his 
land was erected a church and a very large en- 
campment, where for many years in succession the 
Methodists held camp-meetings. These annual 
convocations were great blessings, and were the 

Methodism in Tennessee. 141 

nurseries of Methodism in Sumner county Here 
thousands of souls were converted, and from this 
grand center Methodism radiated, and revival fol- 
lowed revival till many societies were organized 
in the surrounding country. 

Saunders's Chapel, as it has been familiarly 
known for many years, stands about eighteen 
miles from Nashville, about half a mile from the 
turnpike-road leading to Gallatin, and about eight 
miles from the latter place. The first' log meet- 
ing-house was superseded by a brick chapel, and 
this gave way to a neat and comfortable house of 
two stories— the first of brick, the second frame. 
This house was dedicated years ago by the author. 
In the meantime the beautiful village of Saunders- 
ville sprang up on the main thoroughfare, and be- 
came the center of a populous neighborhood. It 
wns determined to supersede the chapel with a 
new house, to be situated at a more convenient and 
central point in the village. This was done, and 
the author dedicated the Saundersville Church in 
the year 1867 The house still bears the name 
of Saunders's Chapel, in honor of the reverend man 
of God who had moved in the erection of the first 
house of worship. One of the trustees of the new 
building is Hubbard Saunders, the youngest son 
of his honored father, and a staunch Methodist 
and worthy citizen. The old church went into 
the hands of Professor Callender, a worthy Meth- 

142 Methodism in Tennessee, 

odist, who conducts in it a school of high grade. 
He married the granddaughter of the Rev Hub- 
bard Saunders. The whole family cling to the 
Church of their parents, and are pillars in the 
temple of God. Thus we see the seed sown in 
the Holston country, more than three-quarters of 
a century ago, reproducing itself in Tennessee in 
the third and fourth generations. 

John Kobler, as we have seen, was this year 
appointed Presiding Elder on the District embrac- 
ing Holston. He continued on this District for 
four years, after which, in 1797, his name appears 
in the Minutes as Elder on the Cumberland Dis- 
trict, in connection with Francis Poythress, super- 
numerary One writer saj^s he did not remain on 
this District during the year, but was called away 
by Bishop Asbury to fill another station. In 
1798, he was on the Cumberland Circuit with 
William Burke. He therefore labored five or six 
consecutive years in Tennessee, where he did a 
noble work. He was a faithful servant of the 
Lord Jesus Christ, a preacher of more than ordi- 
nary ability, and was a devout Christian. After 
leaving the "Cumberland country, he labored in 
Kentucky, and was the first missionary to Ohio. 
Here, in what was then called the North-western 
Territory, he proclaimed the gospel of Christ. He 
volunteered for that field, and God made him w T ise 
in winning souls. Mr. Kobler, it is said, and no 

Methodism in Tennessee. 143 

doubt correctly, preached the first sermon ever 
delivered in what is now the great city of Cincin- 
nati. He was bom in Culpepper county, Virginia, 
August 29, 1768, was there converted, and com- 
menced preaching. In this case, as in many 
others, a preacher from the South was the first to 
carry the tidings of salvation to those who lived 
north of Mason and Dixon's line ; and yet the 
successors of those faithful pioneers are repre- 
sented by their younger brethren as schismatics, 
and discarded as not entitled to equal standing and 
privileges with themselves. But in the morning 
of the great day it will be seen who are acknowl- 
edged as the faithful servants of the great Head 
of the Church. 

Mr. Kobler's constitution, though strong, finally 
gave way under his arduous labors, and he was 
compelled to retire from the active work. In his 
feebleness his heart turned to his native land, and 
he sought and found a home in Fredericksburg, 
Virginia, where he spent his declining years in 
laboring to build up the Church, visiting the sick 
and those who were in prison. He died on the 
26th of July, 1843, in connection with the Balti- 
more Conference. 

Mr. Carr, in his notice of the early Methodist 
preachers in Tennessee, speaks thus of Mr. Kob- 
ler : " He was a perfect gentleman, a most devoted 
Christian, the best of preachers, and a most (in- 

144 Methodism in Tennessee. 

ished scholar. He labored ardently with us, with 
great success, being exceedingly faithful in the 
discharge of every ministerial duty He returned 
to Virginia, and died at an advanced age, a happy 
and triumphant death." 

The following thrilling narrative is recorded in 
Mr. Finley's Sketches of Western Methodism, as 
given by Mr. Kobler himself: 

" In Powell's Valley he became acquainted with 
a lady who had been captured by the Indians, and 
who related to him her sufferings, an account of 
which he gave to Bishop Asbury when on a visit 
to his circuit. The maiden name of the lady was 
Dickenson. She had married a gentleman by the 
name of Scott, and was living in the valley- On 
a certain evening, her husband and children being 
in bed, eight or nine Indians rushed into the house 
full of threatening and slaughter. Startled by 
their terrific yells, Mr. Scott sprang from his bed, 
when instantly every gun they had was fired at 
him. Although badly wounded, he broke through 
them all, and ran out of the house into the woods. 
Several of them immediately started in pursuit, 
and, soon overtaking him, being faint from loss of 
blood, they butchered him and took off his scalp. 
The mother gathered her helpless children in her 
arms, and, convulsed with fear, awaited the result. 
Soon they returned, and, wresting her children 
from her grasp, they cruelly murdered them be- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 145 

fore her eyes. They then plundered the house, 
and took her prisoner. From the cabin they went 
out into the depths of the forest, and, kindling a 
fire, they spent the night in drinking, shouting, 
and dancing. The next day they divided the 
plunder among themselves as equally as possible. 
Among the number of articles taken was one of 
Mr. Wesley's hymn-books. For this they had no 
use, and, no one seeming to care for it, the dis- 
tracted woman, by signs, desired that it might be 
given to her. To this they assented, and, taking 
the book, from whose appropriate hymns she had 
often derived courage and comfort, she opened its 
pages and began to read. When the Indians saw 
this, they were greatly displeased, and, snatching 
it from her, they gave her to understand that they 
believed her a conjurer. After this they started 
in the direction of the Indian towns, and traveled 
several days through the wilderness. The grief 
and sorrow of this afflicted woman was so great 
that she could scarcely realize the horrid scenes 
through which she had passed, and thought she 
was dreaming. To aggravate that grief, if pos- 
sible, these fiends took the scalps of her husband 
and children and hung them around her neck. 
Thus she walked along, through tangled thickets 
and over rugged mountains, almost fainting from 
fatigue, and worn down with anguish. When they 
saw her panting for breath, and almost ready to 
vol. i. — 7 

146 Methodism in Tennessee. 

sink from exhaustion in her weary marches, they 
would laugh at her calamity and mock her feeble- 
ness. Every spark of humanity, however, was 
not extinct in this savage band. There was one 
Indian who, in the hour of her extremity, procured 
for her some water to quench her burning thirst, 
and, when she was ready to sink, made the re- 
mainder stop for her to rest. For eleven days 
they traveled on, and when almost famished with 
hunger, they called a halt, and, committing her to 
the care of an old Indian, they started off to hunt 
for food. 'After resting awhile, the old Indian went 
to work to dress a deer-skin. Mrs. Scott observ- 
ing that his mind was wholly absorbed in his em- 
ployment, walked about from place to place, and, 
w T atching her opportunity, she fled, and was soon 
out of sight in the forest. After running for some 
time, she came to a canebrake, and, entering it, 
was securely hidden. The Indians, on returning 
at night, and finding their prisoner gone, started 
out in pursuit of her. It seems that they had 
taken the direction in which she had gone ; for 
during the night she frequently heard them search- 
ing for her, and answering one another with an 
owl-like hoot. In the darkness of the night, alone 
in the wilderness, and hunted by the savages like 
a beast of prey, this poor woman fell upon her 
knees, and poured out her soul in supplication to 
her Father, God. She spent the night in prayer, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 147 

and the savages, not being able to find her hiding- 
place, left for other parts. In the morning she 
started in the direction, as she supposed, of Ken- 
tucky, almost despairing of ever being permitted 
to look upon a white face again. One day, while 
wandering in the wilderness, not knowing whither 
she was going, almost ready to sink from want of 
food and rest, having nothing to subsist upon but 
roots, young grape-vines, and sweet cane, she 
heard, not far from her, a loud yell and a tremen- 
dous noise, like the furious tramping of many 
horses. She instantly secreted herself in a thicket 
close by, and in a few moments, from her hiding- 
place she saw a large company of Indians rush by 
with a drove of horses, which they had stolen 
from the whites. When the sound had died away, 
and all was still, she left her retreat, and jour- 
neyed on. After traveling a short distance, she 
came in sight of a huge bear, who was devouring 
a deer, and so pressed was she with hunger, that 
she drew near in hopes of getting some. At her 
approach the bear looked up and growled hid- 
eously Fearing an attack, she hastened away 
At length night came on, and she lay down, and 
all through its gloomy hours she dreamed of eat- 
ing; but morning came, and she was sick and 
faint with hunger. As she pursued her journey, 
she came to a rocky region, and, rinding a cave in 
which there were some leaves, she concluded, as 

148 Methodism in Tennessee. 

all hope had nearly deserted her, to go in and lie 
down, and resign herself to her fate. For several 
hours she occupied this den of wild beasts, and 
wept arid prayed for deliverance from her pain 
and sorrow. Her whole system was racked with 
pain, so much so that she could not rest, and she 
was obliged to rise and pursue her journey She 
thought of home, and the f dear ones who had been 
rudely snatched from her embrace, and the foun- 
tains of her grief were opened afresh, while her 
moans and lamentations waked the echoes of the 
wilderness, and reached the ears of her Father in 

" Day after day she traveled on, until she fin- 
ally came to the spot where the Cumberland River 
breaks through the mountains. She crawled down 
the cliffs a considerable distance, till the darkening 
defiles around her filled her with dismay. Far 
down below her rolled the rapid river — around 
her were craggy rocks, and above her the steep, 
precipitous cliffs, which her insensibility to fear 
had enabled her to descend, but which her strength 
would never allow her to scale. She was now on 
the edge of a frightful precipice, formed by a rock 
which rose up perpendicularly from the bank of 
the river. Go back she could not, and to descend 
that precipice would crush her by the fall. But 
it was the only alternative, and, falling upon her 
knees, she prayed most fervently, and commended 

Methodism in Tennessee. 149 

her soul to God. On rising, she seized a bush 
which grew out of the fissures of the rock, on the 
very edge, and letting herself down as far as it 
would reach, she let go, and fell to the bottom on 
the jagged rocks. Wonderful as it was, she was 
not killed ; but, bruised and mangled, she lay in a 
state of insensibility for several hours. When 
she revived, she considered that her end was near, 
and soon her sufferings would end with her life. 
But her time had not yet come, and she was im- 
mortal till that hour. A sensation of thirst came 
on her that was insupportable. The waters were 
before her, dashing their spray almost at her feet, 
but, in her wounded and helpless condition, how 
could she reach them? Feeling that she must 
drink or die, she made an effort, and by slow and 
painful progress she at last crawled to the brink, 
and quenched her burning thirst. This greatly 
revived her, and, after a short time, she was able 
to get up and walk. Following along the bank 
of the river, she came to a path, and, entering it, 
she pursued it a short distance, when it branched 
off in two directions— one leading back into the 
wilderness, the other to the settlements. Which 
path to take she knew not. She, however, unfor- 
tunately determined to take the one leading to the 
wilderness. Before proceeding many steps, a little 
bird, of a dove color, flew close by her face, and 
fluttered along into the other path. She stopped 

150 Methodism in Tennessee. 

and gazed upon it, when it flew toward her, and 
then returned to the path a second time. Taking 
this to be a providential interference, she took the 
path of the bird, which flew on before her, and 
arrived at length among the abodes of humanity 
and civilization. 

" Soon after, under the preaching of the gospel 
pioneer, she embraced religion, led a consistent 
life, and died in the triumphs of the Christian 
faith. Brother Kobler preached her funeral dis- 
course, in which he related the wonderful trials 
and deliverances of this pioneer mother." 

Stith Meade was on the Holston Circuit in 1793. 
He was a Virginian by birth, and long lived a 
faithful, zealous, acceptable, and useful minister 
of the gospel. He 'died, in 1835, in his native 
State, leaving the savor of a good name. He was 
not remarkable as a man of superior talents, but 
his piety was deep, his example excellent, and his 
life and character blameless. " He being dead, 
yet speaketh." 

John Ray was on the Green Circuit this year. 
He lived to a good old age, having labored in Vir- 
ginia, Kentucky, and Indiana; and died in In- 
diana in 1837, in the sixty -ninth year of his 
age. Mr. Ray was a man of considerable ability 
and strong feeling, full of courage, with an iron 
will He was antislavery in his sentiments, and, 
it is said, removed to Indiana on that account. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 151 

His record as a good man and faithful minister is 
clear. He died in Christ. The author, however, 
is forced in candor to say that the strong and de- 
termined manner in which some of the early Meth- 
odist preachers opposed the institution of slavery 
closed the door of access to many families in Ken- 
tucky and Tennessee. Slavery, whether in itself 
right or wrong, was found among the people, and 
they, having the right by the Constitution of the 
Federal Government, and the Constitutions of the 
several States, to hold men in bondage, were firmly 
persuaded that ministers of the gospel had no right 
to interfere, by Church -discipline, with the civil 
institutions of the country. "When, therefore, non- 
slave-holding was made a test of Church-member- 
ship, or, as some strenuously urged, a condition 
of salvation, many were turned away from the 
Methodists, and sought connection with those 
Churches that were less strenuous on this subject. 
The men who preached against slavery were no 
doubt honest and conscientious, and, believing 
slavery to be a sin, they allowed it no quarters ; 
while, on the other hand, those who had no 
scruples on the subject, chose to form Church- 
alliances that would produce no friction. Hence 
they were lost to the Methodist Church. 

152 Methodism in Tennessee. 


Philip Bruce — Sketches by Dr. Bangs and Dr. Clark — The 
work progresses slowly — Numbers in Society — Francis 
Acuff — Lewis Garrett — Copious extracts from " Recol- 
lections" — Williams Kavanaugh : his family — Jacob 
Lurton — Moses Speer : his family. 

Before progressing farther, it is proper to in- 
troduce to the reader, Philip Bruce, who for many 
years filled a prominent place in the Church. 

Mr. Bruce was of French descent, and a native 
of North Carolina. His ancestors were Hugue- 
nots, and fled to America because of persecution 
for religious principles. He was a soldier in the 
Revolutionary War. In early life he was con- 
verted, and, with his mother, joined the Meth- 
odist Church. In 1781, he entered the traveling 
ministry, and continued in the active work nearly 
forty years, filling many of the most important 
and responsible positions in the Church. He 
preached in North Carolina, South Carolina, Vir- 
ginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. 
He labored in the principal cities, and traveled 
many of the largest Districts in the Connection. 
Philadelphia, Baltimore, Richmond, Charleston, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 153 

Norfolk, and Raleigh, were all honored with his 
labors. In the mountains of Virginia, and in the 
swamps of the South, he preached the gospel 
with power and with great success. He was a 
prominent member of the General Conference in 
1800, and was in every subsequent General Con- 
ference till his health failed, and he retired from 
active labor. 

He never married, but declined a matrimonial 
alliance by which he could have entered upon the 
possession of a large estate. He continued single, 
that he might in those early times the more effi- 
ciently serve the Church which he so dearly 

In 1817, his health failed, and he was placed 
upon the superannuated list, as a member of the 
Virginia Conference. 

His family had removed in the meantime to Giles 
county, Tennessee. Mr. Bruce followed them, 
and remained with his relatives till he went to 
join the family above. But as long as he lived, 
he never dissolved his connection with the Vir- 
ginia Conference : he died honored by his breth- 
ren, with whom he had spent the vigor of his man- 
hood. The Conference ordered a monument to be 
placed at his grave, and made the Rev. Thomas 
L. Douglass the agent to have the work per- 
formed. He died at the house of his brother, Joel 
Bruce, in Lincoln county, Tennessee, on the 10th 

154 Methodism in Tennessee. 

of May, 1826, the oldest traveling preacher in the 
Connection at the time, except the Rev Freeborn 
Garrettson. He sleeps near Elk River, but his 
name is precious to many in Tennessee, who 
heard him preach in his old age. 

Mr. Bruce was no ordinary man. His vigor of 
intellect placed him in the foremost rank, and his 
sound judgment and consistent piety gave him an 
influence in the pulpit and in deliberative bodies 
enjoyed only by few- 

The following tribute to his memory was writ- 
ten by the Rev. Nathan Bangs, D.D. : 

" Mr. Bruce was, I should suppose, about five 
feet ten inches in height, and had an expression 
of countenance which would give you the idea of a 
symmetrical, well-balanced, and stable mind. His 
movements were easy and natural, and his whole 
manner gentlemanly and courteous. He was 
social and cheerful in private intercourse, and 
though never forgetting the appropriate dignity 
of a Christian minister, his presence would always 
be hailed with pleasure by any circle into which 
he might be thrown. 

"Mr. Bruce's mind was distinguished rather for 
solid than showy qualities. He had excellent 
common sense and a sound judgment, which gave 
him great influence, not only in his ordinary in- 
tercourse with men, but in the Conference, and 
the management of the concerns of the Church at 

Methodism in Tennessee. 155 

large. Indeed, so highly was he esteemed, that 
he was at one time a prominent candidate for 
the office of Bishop, though another person was 


"As a preacher, Mr. Bruce was highly respect- 
able, though not marked by any of those striking 
characteristics which are apt to attract and en- 
trance the multitude. His voice, though rather 
feeble, was very distinct, and capable of being 
easily heard by a large audience. His discourses 
were sensible and instructive, exhibiting divine 
truth in a luminous and impressive manner, though 
with very little of rhetorical display He occa- 
sionally hesitated for the right word in the de- 
livery of his discourse ; and he has been known 
to pause, and offer a short prayer for the desired 
aid, and then to proceed with his accustomed 
fluency" * 

The Rev Laban Clark, D.D., says : 

" Philip Bruce was a man of a decidedly vigor- • 
ous intellect. He saw things clearly, and through 
the right medium. He acted conscientiously, and 
with great firmness of purpose. His heart was 
evidently set upon the promotion of the best in- 
terests of the Church ; and to that end he was 
ready to subordinate all private considerations. 
His preaching was bold and earnest, but he never 

Sprague's Annals, p. 75. 

156 Methodism in Tennessee. 

uttered a sentence merely to gratify the taste of 
his hearers, or for any other purpose than to 
benefit their souls. As a member of Conference, 
he was always listened to with profound attention 
and respect ; for, though he spoke frequently, his 
voice was never heard, unless he had something to 
say worth listening to. In his private inter- 
course he was cheerful and social, but always 
sufficiently sedate. He impressed you as a man 
who was well fitted to be at the helm in times of 
darkness and difficulty. I must not omit to say 
that he possessed a truly magnanimous spirit, for 
of this I happen to have had personal experience. 
When the subject of the ordination of local elders 
was before the Conference, I offered a resolution 
not in accordance with his views, and he felt him- 
self called upon to oppose it. In doing so, he spoke 
with a little more warmth than he thought, upon 
mature reflection, was justified by the circum- 
stances of the case ; and, after the discussion was 
over, he came to me, and, in the most manly 
spirit, apologized for what he considered his un- 
reasonable warmth. I hardly need say that if 
what he had said had been far more objectionable 
than it was, the fact that he was so ready to 
make the amende honorable, left him standing much 
higher in my estimation even than he had done 

* --■ — ■■ - 

* Sprague's Annals, pp. 75, 76. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 157 

The work during this year (1794) seems to 
have progressed rather slowly; yet the number 
of laborers increased, and the membership in some 
places multiplied. The numbers returned were as 
follows: Holston, 257 whites, 18 colored; New 
River, 255 whites, 18 colored; Green, 300 whites, 
7 colored ; Cumberland, 400 whites, 30 colored. 
Some of the former circuits appear to have been 
dropped from the Minutes, or they were swallowed 
up in other fields. 

The following are the Appointments for this 
year : John Kobler, Elder; Holston, Francis Acuff 
and John Lindsey ; New River, Samuel Rudder 
and John Ray; Russell, Jacob Peck; Green, 
Williams Kavanaugh and Lewis Garrett; Cum- 
berland, Jacob Lurton and Moses Speer ; Francis 
Poythress, Elder. 

The Conference for this year convened at Lewis's 
Chapel, in Jessamine county, Kentucky. From 
the list of Appointments it will be seen that sev- 
eral new preachers were appointed to the work in 

The fruit of the toil of the first preachers in 
' Holston soon began to ripen. Francis AcufF was 
brought to God, and was called to the work of 
the ministry : his race, though short, was bril- 
liant. The following beautiful tribute to his 
memory we copy from the printed Minutes : 
"Francis Acuff was three years a traveling 

158 Methodism in Tennessee. 

preacher ; a young man of genius and improvable 
parts, and apparently of a firm constitution ; was 
much beloved, and greatly lamented by his family 
and Christian friends. He was born in Culpepper 
county, and brought up in Sullivan county, near 
Holston, in the State of Tennessee. He died in 
August, 1795, near Danville, in the State of 
Kentucky, in the twenty-fifth year of his age. 
Thus dropped the morning flower : though flour- 
ishing' in the morning, in the evening cut down 
and withered. He was soon called away from his 
labors in the vineyard to the rest that remaineth 
for the people of God." 

This year the name of Lewis Garrett first ap- 
pears in the Minutes. He was for many long 
years closely identified with the Church in Ten- 
nessee, and therefore demands more than a pass- 
ing notice. Mr. Garrett, as well as many of his 
relatives bearing his name, have been, and are 
now, prominent Methodists. We copy from Mr. 
Garrett's own pen a brief sketch of his early life 
and his entrance upon the work of the ministry : 

"In the year 1779, (in the midst of the Rev- 
olutionary War,) my father sold his possessions 
in Bottetourt county, Virginia, and removed to 
Kentucky, which was then thinly settled : very 
few ventured to settle any other way than in 
stations or forts — being perpetually exposed to 
the hostile attacks of the savage Indians. He, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 159 

however, died before lie reached the place of his 
destination, and left a widow and eight children, 
the eldest about sixteen years, in the wilderness. 
We were obliged to settle in camps until log- 
cabins could be built. The winter was very cold ; 
it was long remembered in Kentucky as the 'hard 
winter: This was a trying scene to a woman who 
had been educated and spent her early life near 
Philadelphia, and who had been accustomed to 
better days. The Indians stole her horses ; her 
funds were in Continental money, which became 
depreciated; breadstuff's were hardly to be pro- 
cured at any price, and many ate no bread till it 
grew and matured the next season — having noth- 
ing to sustain nature but wild meat, and that 
without salt. She did sometimes procure a little 
corn at the rate of seventy dollars per bushel, (de- 
preciated currency,) but it was a scanty supply. 

" In the spring of 1780, her second son, about 
eleven years of age, went out to catch a horse, and 
never returned. It was supposed that he was 
taken by the Indians, but no trace of him could 
ever be discovered. About 1783, her eldest son, 
fifteen or sixteen years old, went on a hunting 
excursion in company with two men : both the 
men were killed, and himself taken prisoner by 
the Shawnee Indians. Their dogs returned home; 
the horses and bones of the men were found some 
time afterward j but she was compelled to remain 

160 Methodism in Tennessee. 

full eighteen months in a state of painful sus- 
pense respecting his destiny, until all unexpect- 
edly, like one raised from the dead, he arrived at 
home to cheer the almost broken heart of a widowed 
mother. His account of his captivity was a tale 
of interest. After having been dragged on through 
the wild-wood, with little or no nourishment, to 
the Shawnee towns, he was adopted into an In- 
dian family, where he remained about six months. 
He was then taken to Detroit on a trading expe- 
dition ; and while he was left to keep a camp on 
the bank of the river, was taken in a canoe by a 
white man, and conveyed to the house of a French- 
man. The savages sought him diligently for some 
time, and threatened to burn him if they found 
him. The Frenchman conveyed him to the house 
of his brother, several miles distant, where he 
was hospitably treated, and where he remained 
nearly one year, when there was an exchange of 
prisoners, and he was permitted to return home. 

"Although fifty years* have fled away, and I 
have passed through a great variety of scenes and 
changes, yet are many of the afflicting circum- 
stances attendant on the early settlements of 
Kentucky fresh in my recollection. The few 
emigrants, mostly pent up in stations or forts, in 
almost a perpetual state of alarm from the savages 

* Written 1834. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 161 

— the war-whoop, the tomahawk, and the scalping- 
k n if e — short of provisions, and very little chance 
to cultivate the soil. To retreat to the old States 
was hazardous, and almost impossible — and even 
there the revolutionary struggle was spreading 
terror and dismay There was no alternative for 
these hapless adventurers but to brave the dan- 
gers which thickened around, and seemed, some- 
times, to threaten their entire overthrow. Little 
do a great proportion of the present race, who 
enjoy the benefits of a rich soil in the West, know 
of the sufferings of the first adventurers ; and 
perhaps too few advert with humble gratitude to 
that superintending Providence which so mani- 
festly stayed the hand of savage violence, and 
exercised his fostering care over these scattered 
and defenseless pioneers. 

"A Baptist preacher by the name of James 
Smith settled a station, which assumed his name, 
in the fork between Dick's and Kentucky Rivers. 
Through his instrumentality a revival of religion 
was commenced, which spread all over this new 
and thinly-settled region. My mother, who had 
been raised a Presbyterian, was a subject of this 
revival. Amidst the din of war, and the terror 
of savage depredations, the work of the Lord went 
on, and many were the subjects of saving grace. 
The Baptists were almost the only denomination 
of Christians then known in Kentucky. They 

162 Methodism in Tennessee. 

were then very zealous, and God owned and pros- 
pered their efforts. This revival, however, had 
gone on but a few years, before disputation arose 
about the doctrines of general and of limited atone- 
ment. A heated controversy ensued, in which 
Smith, Tanner, two or three of the Craggs, Bled- 
soe, and Bailey, were prominent actors. It re- 
sulted in a separation — and the parties were de- 
signated by the names of regular and separate 

"In the spring season of this year, (1780,) 
my eldest brother and myself went a few hun- 
dred yards from the station, to procure a piece 
of timber of some kind : while he was cutting 
the timber, the cattle passed us grazing; sud- 
denly they returned, apparently affrighted, with 
their heads and tails raised : we at this took the 
alarm and fled to the fort. It was discovered 
that a party of Indians had passed that way, by 
their trail being seen in the grass. It is known 
that cattle and horses were generally alarmed at 
the approach of savages in those days, and these 
cattle were doubtless a means in the hands of a 
good Providence of saving us from massacre or 

"When the dreariness and severity of the 
winter had passed away, and vegetation began to 
spring up, there was a kind of ground-pea, that 
seemed to be the peculiar product of this new 

Methodism in Tennessee. 163 

and fertile region, which was sought as food by 
the almost famished inhabitants, many of whom 
had survived through the winter without bread. 
This pea, dug out of the earth and roasted, pos- 
sessed nourishing properties, and was a useful 
substitute for bread. Buffalo, elk, deer, and bear 
were abundant, and there was no lack of wild 
meat; but this being eaten alone, without salt, 
produced dysentery and other attendant diseases, 
for which there were no remedies but such as 
nature furnished or artless simplicity suggested. 
The females among these early pioneers were 
either constitutionally or from habit hardy, brave, 
and intrepid, or else they were rendered so 
by being placed between dreadful alternatives. 
Early impressions are apt to be permanent, and 
many of the occurrences of these trying times 
have not yet been effaced from my recollection. 


"In April, 1794, the Western Conference con- 
vened at Lewis's, near the Kentucky River, in 
the neighborhood where Bethel Academy was 
then building. But it did not require much room 
or much preparation to accommodate the whole 
Western Conference then, which consisted of 
seven traveling preachers. The Bishop was not 
there — the Presiding Elder, Francis Poythress, 
was President. The great religious excitement 
had considerably abated in Kentucky. 

164 Methodism in Tennessee. 

"At this Conference the writer of these sketches 
was admitted on trial, and appointed to Green Cir- 
cuit, in what is now termed East Tennessee. 
He left a pious widowed mother, whom he saw 
no more in time, with the words of the apostle 
bearing strongly on his mind, ' Woe is me if I 
preach not the gospel! The wilderness had to be 
passed through, which was difficult and dangerous. 
Agreeably to an appointment verbally published, 
which was then the custom, a company met at 
the Crab Orchard on a set day — there were about 
sixty men, six of whom were traveling preachers. 
They divided into two distinct companies, and a 
captain was elected for each, to travel in the front 
and rear alternately ; for owing to the narrowness 
of the road, and the danger of attack from the 
lurking savages, who frequently laid in ambus- 
cade to surprise the traveler, we were compelled 
to travel in what was called Indian file. The first 
day we reached a fort that had been established 
for the accommodation and safety of emigrants 
and travelers, and soldiers were stationed here 
for defense ; but from the limited and rude state 
of the fort, and the dissipation of its inmates, the 
preachers and many others preferred encamping 
in the woods and keeping outguards. We had 
prayers at our fires, (for we had no tents,) and 
John Ray, an intrepid, fearless, zealous preacher, 
sung and prayed so loud, that the people of the 

Methodism in Tennessee. 165 

fort came running out to see what was the mat- 
ter. His addresses to the God of providence and 
grace were ardent and impressive. 

" The next day we traveled hard — passed the 
gloomy spot where, a short time before, a com- 
pany had been defeated by the Indians, and two 
Baptist preachers killed : the sign was fresh — a 
gloom seemed to rest on the place and to pervade 
our company as we passed on. About sunset we 
halted on the bank of a deep, muddy creek to take 
up our encampment for the night. I had just 
time to strip my horse, tie him by the neck, give 
him a little of the food he carried, and eat a mor- 
sel myself, before I was placed on guard. The 
position I occupied was in a thick wood on the 
bank of the creek, with not a ray of light. 
Having slept very little for several nights, and 
being very weary, I found it difficult to keep 
awake standing on my feet. I had not been long 
there before I heard advancing toward me some- 
thing like a man walking — I cocked my rifle, 
presented it at the noise, placed my finger on the 
trigger, and deliberately determined, believing it 
to be an Indian, to wait till he touched the muzzle 
of my gun, and then fire. It came pretty near, 
and then ran off. It was probably a wild beast. 

"Shortly afterward, I was called off guard, 
and when I reached the camp, the whole com- 
pany were upon the point of marching. We 

1C6 Methodism in Tennessee. 

crossed the creek in a state of confusion — some 
horses, riders and all, fell down the bank and 
plunged into the mud and water. We, however, 
all got over, and took up the line of march, having 
to feel our way, for we could not see. Mr. Ray, 
of whom we made mention, was our pilot, having 
often traveled the road ; but it was so difficult to 
keep the track, that he declared he would leave the 
road and go to sleep : accordingly he turned off — 
all followed, and presently halted, and each kept 
guard for himself. I lay down at the root of a 
tree, with my gun on one arm and my horse 
hitched on the other, and slept soundly When I 
awoke, I was so chilled with the cold that I could 
not get up ; after struggling a little, my system 
recovered its wonted energies. At daybreak we 
moved on, crossed the Cumberland Mountains, 
and reached the settlement on Clinch River, 
where we rested till the next day- My colleague, 
Williams Kavanaugh, and myself proceeded to 
Green Circuit ; but there was not yet an end of 
difficulty and danger. This circuit was, for the 
most part, a frontier. It lay along the Holston 
and French Broad Rivers : there were few settlers 
south of French Broad, and what there were, 
either lived in forts cooped up in dread, or lived 
in strongly-built houses, with thick puncheon doors, 
barred up strongly when night approached. The 
Cherokee Indians, who were their near neighbors, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 167 

were in a state of hostility. We visited those 
forts and scattering settlers in quest of perishing 
souls. The Presiding Elder, John Kobler, on his 
return from one of those excursions, rode up to a 
cabin and saw the family lying bleeding, just 
butchered by the savages. Alone and defense- 
less, he passed on, and was mercifully preserved. 
The writer of these sketches frequently passed 
those dreary tenements, from which the inhab- 
itants had fled for fear, alone and unattended, to 
preach to the inhabitants of those gloomy forts, 
some of whom were pious, and loved the gospel 
and the means of grace." * 

After having traveled the Green Circuit one 
year, Mr. Garrett was appointed to the Russell 
and Orange Circuits, Virginia; Haw River and 
Caswell, North Carolina; Gloucester, Mecklen- 
burg, and Greensville, Virginia ; and then in 1802, 
he was transferred to the W.est, and appointed to 
Lexington Circuit, Kentucky, as the colleague of 
William Burke. In 1803, he was on the Dan- 
ville Circuit, Kentucky In 1804, he was Pre- 
siding Elder on the Cumberland District. This 
field of labor was extensive — namely, Nashville, 
Red River, in Tennessee ; Barren, Wayne, Lexing- 
ton, in Kentucky; Natchez, Mississippi; and Illi- 
nois. Thoudi the details of Mr. Garrett will 

* Recollections of the West, pp. 5-9, 21-25. 

168 Methodism in Tennessee. 

extend ahead of the period now under consider- 
ation, we will run the risk of making the follow- 
ing copious extracts from his reminiscences : 

"In October, 1803, the Western Conference 
was held at Mount Gerizim, Harrison county, 
Kentucky Bishop Asbury was present in toler- 
able good health. The work was greatly enlarg- 
ing in the West : the tide of emigration was 
astonishingly rapid; new settlements were con- 
stantly forming, and the revival of religion, the 
spread of the gospel, the enlargement of circuits 
and Districts, and the formation of new ones, by 
means of itinerant preaching, kept pace with the 
spreading population. 

"At this Conference a new District was formed 
north-west of the Ohio River, called the Ohio 
District, and William Burke was appointed Pre- 
siding Elder. At this Conference, the writer of 
these sketches was appointed Presiding Elder on 
Cumberland District. This District was new, 
covered a large tract of country, a great propor- 
tion of which was newly and thinly settled. It 
extended east to the Cumberland Mountains, 
north to Green River, south as far as there were 
settlements, south-west to Natchez, and north- 
west to Illinois. The previous year, Moses Floyd 
had been sent to Natchez to assist Tobias Gibson 
in his missionary labors ; and this year, II. Harri- 
nian and A. Amos were added. Benjamin Young 

Methodism in Tennessee. 169 

was sent to Illinois to preach the gospel and 
form societies in that then new and uncultivated 
region. The previous year, Barren Circuit was 
formed by James Gwin, and Wayne Circuit by 
Jacob Young. This year, Jesse Walker was 
sent to form a circuit in Livingston, Kentucky,' 
near the junction of the Ohio and Cumberland 
Rivers ; and Z. B. Thaxton to form Roaring 
River Circuit along the base of the Cumberland 
Mountain. Thus was this whole field embraced 
and put under moral and religious culture, thirty 
years ago, taking in that ' populous valley,' about 
which an officious ignoramus wrote some two or 
three years ago to the East, representing it as ' a 
moral waste,' and the inhabitants in a state of the 
most degrading ignorance. 

" The writer of these sketches, about thirty 
years ago, traversed this valley and crossed these 
hills from the mouth of Cumberland River to the 
mountains — through the canebreaks of Caney 
Fork and Smith's Fork — passed through every 
part of the Green River Barrens, and visited 
almost every settlement. The settlers, though 
struggling with the difficulties and inconveniences 
necessarily connected with a new and thinly- 
populated country, seemed to be generally much 
alive to the importance of religion and the eter- 
nal interests of their souls. The revival which 

commenced among the Methodists and Presby- 
Vol. i— 8 

170 Methodism in Tennessee. 

terians in the year 1800, had spread all over this 
country ; for each had at this time traveling 
preachers carrying the news of heavenly grace to 
almost every neighborhood. Many yet remember 
the zealous and useful labors of Anderson, the 
amiable and powerful Presbyterian traveling 
preacher, who fell in the field of labor, and soon 
went to reap an eternal reward. Here Page, 
Wilkerson, John and William McGee, McGready, 
Hodge, Gwin, etc., etc., had gone forth weeping, 
bearing precious seed : here camp-meetings were 
held in their original, simple, artless style; no 
ostentatious show ; no fine tables spread with 
dainties, or loaded with luxuries — a simple re- 
past to satisfy the cravings of nature ; and then 
preaching a plain, unsophisticated gospel, prayer 
and songs of praise were the delightful employ- 
ments. The woods resounded with the shouts 
of the converted, and the responding hallelujahs 
of the happy 

" It was then difficult to discriminate between 
a Presbyterian and a Methodist preacher, or mem- 
ber : they preached together, and shouted to- 
gether — for stiff, sullen, dry formality was then 
not much in vogue. The gospel preached was the 
power of God to salvation • and the religion which 
was experienced warmed, and animated, and kin- 
dled into rapture. Its possessors felt it, ' pressed 
down, shaken together, and running over.' 

Methodism in Tennessee. 171 

"These were pleasant days, refreshing and 
joyous seasons. All was harmony and love. 
It was indeed a verification of that prediction, 
' The work of righteousness shall be peace, and 
the effect of righteousness, quietness and assur- 
ance for ever.' 

"Here the forests were clearing, the cane- 
brakes rooting out, school-houses building, meet- 
ing-houses erecting — cut or hewn out of the 
forest ; settlements filling up and extending ; the 
work of civilization and moral and religious cul- 
ture going forward, in a degree that would per- 
haps have astonished a student from an Eastern 
seminary, who still may dream that it is a ' moral 
desolation.' In fine, these hardy pioneers were 
religious, shrewd, and enterprising, and the God 
of providence and grace smiled propitiously upon 
them, prospered their efforts, enlarged their coasts, 
took many of them joyfully to heaven, and left 
their children to enjoy the fruits of their adven- 
tures and enterprising toil. 

"On Cumberland District — some account of the 
extent and prospects of which we have given on 
a general scale— there was much, in 1804, to exer- 
cise the patience, try the fortitude, and call forth 
the energies of traveling preachers. The country 
was for the most part newly and thinly settled ; 
the rides long ; the pathways narrow, and dim, 
and sometimes through the woods ; deep and 

172 Methodism in Tennessee. 

rapid streams to cross ; no bridges — it was swim 
or lie in the woods ; and then, wet and weary, 
hungry and cold, lodge in an open cabin, and 
after a scanty repast of the coarsest kind, sleep 
on the floor or a hard bed, exposed to the bleak 
winds of winter, or the ravages of vermin in 

" But what of all this ? These itinerant mis- 
sionaries were not looking at the things that are 
seen ; they had respect to a better reward, and a 
more durable inheritance. They were getting 
souls for their hire, and they counted not their 
sufferings great or their lives dear, so that they 
might win Christ, and save souls from eternal 
death. The traveling preachers of those days 
were traveling preachers in reality They did 
not think that, when they had ridden so many 
miles, or preached so many times, their work was 
done — that they might ' stay longer at any place 
than was strictly necessary ' They did not 
hurry on to their homes, their favorite places, or 
their secular employments, and neglect their ap- 
pointments, their class-meetings, or their pastoral 
visits, and their labors of love among the poor of 
the flock. They did not seek to please men by 
conforming to the customs or fashions of the 
world, or by shunning honest, blunt truth, for 
fear of offending delicate and itching ears. 

" It is true that they got but little money, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 173 

had but little ease, and spent no idle time. The 
good people who loved the gospel, sometimes 
gave them homespun clothes, and if their clothes 
were ragged, and their pockets penniless, these 
things did not move them. Their way was on- 
ward. That zeal and courage which the gospel 
inspires enabled them to overleap every barrier. 
' To die in the field of battle ' was their motto, 
and God gave them the victories of the cross, and 
the spread, growth, and prosperity of the Church 
in this widely-extended Western region. 

" Here, indeed, the harvest was great and 
the laborers few Six circuits and two missions 
comprised in Cumberland District about eight 
or nine traveling preachers, nearly all of whom 
were young and unordained — very few local 
preachers ; and this covering a vast extent of 
country, where were widely scattered the purchase 
of a Redeemer's blood, and where there was much 
religious excitement and pressing calls for gospel 

"In the spring of the year 1804, the writer of 
these sketches, and that laborious, useful pioneer, 
Jesse Walker, designed visiting Illinois, to which 
place a missionary had been sent the preceding 
fall ; but the season being wet, the Ohio had over- 
flowed its banks and obstructed our passage, so 
that we could not proceed. We, however, turned 
up the Ohio, swam our horses across Tradewater, 

174 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Pond River, penetrated the swamps, searched out 
the new settlements, crossed Green River to Hart- 
ford, formed a circuit, constituted societies, and 
saw an opening prospect of doing much good. In 
the neighborhood of Hartford we found a local 
preacher by the name of Taylor, who had emi- 
grated from the East, and settled here ; and 
though a plain blacksmith, he had been instru- 
mental in getting up a considerable revival : 
many were made the subjects of converting grace, 
and a large society was formed in the neighbor- 

"In Henderson county, between Pond River 
and the Ohio, we found an old Methodist, by the 
name of Browder, in a settlement making no 
pretensions to religion, and destitute of the means 
of grace. Here we appointed a camp-meeting to 
be held the following summer in the woods. The 
old man built a shelter at a spring. A local 
preacher by the name of Hollace went with me 
sixty or seventy miles. Jesse Walker arrived. 
The people gathered from twenty to forty miles 
around — brought their provisions in their wallets 
and saddle-bags : in this simple style we labored 
three or four days, and the power of the Lord 
was present to heal. Many were awakened and 
converted, and a society was raised in this new 
settlement of thirty or forty members. 

" This kind of labor, and such homely fare, to 

Methodism in Tennessee. 17 5 

be sure, would not so well suit effeminate dandies, 
who seem scarcely to think souls worth saving, 
unless they can be found in towns, or among the 
rich, or in fashionable circles. The polished 
academician who, under some circumstances, 
would assume the title of missionary, could per- 
haps hardly be prevailed on so far to imitate the 
example of Him who had e not where to lay his 
head,' as to go into the woods and preach the 
gospel to the poor, lodge upon the ground, eat a 
morsel of meat and bread, and toil day and night 
to save souls." * 

Mr. Garrett continued on the Cumberland Dis- 
trict in 1805, and then located. He remained 
local a number of years, residing in Middle Ten- 
nessee and North Alabama, preaching and teach- 
ing, devoting a portion of his time to farming. In 
1824, he was readmitted into the Tennessee Con- 
ference, and was stationed in the town of Nash- 
ville. In 1825, he was on the Nashville District, 
as Presiding Elder, where he was continued for 
two years. He then sustained a supernumerary 
relation for a few years, and was again appointed 
to the Nashville District. The following sketch 
was prepared by the author, and published in 
Kedford's History of Methodism in Kentucky : 

" Lewis Garrett was one of the early preachers 

* Recollections of the West, pp. 40-47. 

176 Methodism in Tennessee. 

who bore a conspicuous part in planting Method- 
ism and establishing the cause of Christianity in 
the West. His labors were not confined to this 
new and inviting field of toil, though some of the 
best days of his early life and ministry were spent 
in Kentucky 

" Mr. Garrett was a native of Pennsylvania — 
born April 24, 1772 — but while he was yet a 
child, his parents removed to Virginia. There 
they continued only a few years before they set 
out for the fertile valley of the ' far West.' On 
the way the father, Lewis Garrett, died, leaving a 
widow and eight children in the wilderness. They, 
however, pressed forward with sad hearts, and, 
accompanied by other immigrant families, reached 
Scott's Station, between Dick's and Kentucky 
Rivers, where they halted and erected temporary 
cabins. This was in the autumn of 1779. Here 
the family encountered sore difficulties. The 
winter was extremely cold, provisions were very 
scarce, and the Indians hostile. Two of his 
brothers were captured by the savages, one of 
whom was a prisoner for eighteen months, and the 
other was never heard from. 

" The family of Mr. Garrett became identified 
with the Methodists in 1786 ; but in 1790, a great 
revival prevailed in the settlements, under the 
ministry of Benjamin Ogden, James Haw, and 
Barnabas McHenry. It was in this revival that 

Methodism in Tennessee. ITT 

young Garrett was awakened and converted. In 
1794, he entered the traveling connection. The 
Conference for the West was held that year at 
Lewis's, near the Kentucky River. Moses Speer 
and Williams Kavanaugh were admitted at the 
same Conference. 

" For twelve consecutive years Mr. Garrett 
traveled and preached in Virginia, North Carolina, 
Tennessee, and Kentucky In 1802, he was on 
the Lexington Circuit; 1803, Danville; 1804, 
Presiding Elder on the Cumberland District. 

" His health having failed, he located for a season, 
and settled in Tennessee. He afterward returned 
to the itinerant work, and spent many days in the 
ministry, preaching on circuits, in towns, and on 
large districts. He was for many years a leading 
member of the Tennessee Conference, and filled 
many important appointments. 

" He finally, in connection with the Rev John 
N Maffit, commenced in Nashville the publication 
of the Western Methodist, a popular weekly sheet, 
advocating the claims of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. He also established a book-store, where 
he for years did an extensive business. 

" He became somewhat involved in difficulties 

and serious strife with some of his brethren, which 

resulted in a severance from the Church for a few 

years. He, however, came back to the bosom of 

his mother, became a member of the Mississippi 

ITS Methodism in Tennessee. 

Conference, where he labored and preached with 
great success till e the wheels of nature stood still/ 
and he e ceased at once to work and live.' 

" He died at the home of his son, M. Garrett, 
Esq., near Vernon, Mississippi, April 28, 1857, in 
the eighty-sixth year of his age. 

"Mr. Garrett was in person rather under size; 
slender, but well formed. His face was finely 
chiseled, and his features were indicative of 
strength and sprightliness of intellect. His eye 
was a dark brown, and very piercing ; his voice 
was full and mellow, his accent and articulation 
superior, his manner very deliberate, and his ser- 
mons at times overpowering. Indeed, he was an 
extraordinary man, and accomplished much for 
the Church. He died in peace — yea, in triumph 
— and now rests from his labors, while his works 
do follow him." 

We copy the following from the General Min- 
utes for the year 1857 : 

"Lewis Garrett was born April 24, 1772, in 
Pennsylvania, and died April 28, 1857, near Ver- 
non, Mississippi, in the full assurance of faith, 
aged eighty-five years and four days. Soon after 
the birth of our brother, his father, Mr. Lewis 
Garrett, removed to Virginia; but in 1779 sold 
out his possessions in that State, and started, with 
his wife and eight children, in quest of a home in 
what was then called the far West, In some 

Methodism in Tennessee. 179 

Recollections published by our departed brother 
of himself and others, during the year 1848, he 
refers to the vivid impressions of those days, and 
the many difficulties this emigrant family had to 
encounter in its passage over the mountains to 
seek a home on the rich lands of Kentucky On 
the way his father died, at a station on Clinch 
River; but his mother continued her journey, 
under the protection of her brother, Morris Gwin, 
and other emigrant families, and took up her resi- 
dence at Scott's Station, between Dick's and the 
Kentucky Rivers, in the autumn of 1779. There 
they erected temporary cabins, and remained dur- 
ing what was long called the 6 hard winter,' getting 
their corn, at the hazard of life, from the Ohio, 
which, when procured, they had to pound, in 
order to obtain from it bread. As all could not 
get even this, many lived chiefly on wild meat and 
a wild pea growing in the country. In the spring 
of 1780, the prowling savages commenced their 
attacks on the whites. The second son of Mrs. 
Garrett, named Phinehas, about eleven years old, 
was captured by the Indians ; and, in 1783, her 
eldest son, Eli, then about sixteen years old, being 
out on a hunting expedition, was also captured. 
The former was never heard of; the latter was 
not recovered until eighteen months after. Dur- 
ing the year 1782, Mr. Garrett's mother and sister 
became the subjects of a revival then in progress 

180 Methodism in Tennessee. 

in their vicinity; but in 1786, a revival far more 
extensive and powerful commenced through the 
instrumentality of James Haw and Benjamin Og- 
den, both of whom visited the widowed mother of 
young Garrett, who, although but a boy, was even 
then accustomed to mark and observe upon the 
pious and upright walk of these holy men. In 
1787, Barnabas McHenry was appointed, in con- 
nection with James Haw, to Cumberland Circuit; 
and through the instrumentality of this good young 
man, who went about daily doing good, at the 
hazard of his life, young Garrett was first im- 
pressed with the necessity of religion. At what 
particular time or place he was converted we do 
not find recorded in his recollections of those times, 
but in 1794, at the meeting of the Western Con- 
ference at Lewis's, near the Kentucky River, he. 
Moses Speer, and Williams Kavanaugh, were ad- 
mitted on trial, and Brother Garrett appointed, 
with Brother Kavanaugh, to Green Circuit, in 
what is now called East Tennessee. He, with 
four other preachers, met at the Crab Orchard, 
and, attended by about sixty men, proceeded on 
their way to their appointments, in imminent 
danger, almost every hour, of losing their lives by 
the Indians constantly prowling about for murder 
and plunder. The description given by Mr. Gar- 
rett of their difficulties and dangers is truly inter- 
esting, and displays the courage and deep devotion 

Methodism in Tennessee. -v 181 

of the men of that day In 1795, he was ap- 
pointed to Russell Circuit; in 1796, to Orange; 
1797, Haw River; 1798, Caswell; 1799, Ports- 
mouth; 1800, Gloucester; 1801, Mecklenburg; 
1802, Lexington, Ky. ; 1803, Danville, 1804, 
Presiding Elder on Cumberland District, in what 
was then called the Western Conference; 1805, 
the same District. It appears in the General 
Minutes that Mr. Garrett located at the Confer- 
ence of October, 1805. Of this act he has the 
following printed account: 'At this Conference 
(1805) the writer [L. G.] of these sketches found 
it necessary to desist from traveling at large. 
Twelve years' incessant travel and labor, upon an 
extensive scale, had considerably enfeebled a once 
robust constitution.' These, with family con- 
siderations, induced him to locate. In connection 
with the account of his location, he dilates on the 
happiness he enjoyed in those days of primitive 
Methodism in his associations with many of those 
pioneers of the gospel whilst he traveled exten- 
sively through Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and 
North Carolina; and especially does he mention 
the ever-venerated names of Asbury and M'Ken- 
dree. But, in a located condition, he was not idle. 
Ever active, when not pressed by family consider- 
ations, he was abundant in the work of the min- 
istry ; and, as evidence of this fact, we need only 
say that he was an active and a zealous participant 

182 Methodism in Temiessee. 

in the extensive revivals in Kentucky and Ten- 
nessee which occurred about the time, and soon 
after his location. These sketches of himself and 
others were first published in the Western Meth- 
odist ; afterward, when corrected, they appeared 
in a small volume, printed at Yazoo City. In 
1816, Brother Garrett reentered the traveling 
connection, and was appointed to Stone's River 
Circuit; 1817, Dixon; 1818 and 1819, Cumber- 
land; 1820, Duck River; 1821 ,^ Mi ssionary to 
JncksorLS Purchase ; 1822, Duck River District; 
1823, ForkecTTBeer District; 1824, Nashville; 
1825-1829, in a supernumerary relation ; 1830- 
1832, Presiding Elder of Nashville District; in 
1834 and 1835, at the Book Depository, Nash- 
ville; 1836, as a supernumerary; 1837, he located; 
but in 1848, Brother Garrett appears as a super- 
annuated minister in the Mississippi Conference, 
which relation he sustained to that Conference 
until the time of his death. Our venerable brother 
was a man of more than ordinary mind. In our 
opinion, he possessed deep and undissembled piety; 
generally of few words, and remarkable for his in* 
dustry and zeal, as well as his attachment to what 
he considered the ancient landmarks of Methodism. 
Having settled near Vernon. Madison county, 
Mississippi, he was employed as a missionary 
among the colored people, to whom he preached, 
and among whom he labored zealously as long as 

Methodism in Tennessee. 183 

he was able to do so. At last, after having been 
a preacher for at least sixty-three years, it was 
apparent to all his friends who visited him that 
he was sinking apace. It is said that the last time 
he attended church he was extremely happy, and 
he remarked to a brother w r ho called to see and 
pray with him and his venerable wife, in the lan- 
guage of Wesley, ' The best of all is, God is with 
us.' He had but three sons : one of them had 
already departed, leaving behind an interesting 
family, that had endeared itself to him by very 
many kind attentions, and who now revere his 
memory and recur to him as a model of piety ; 
another son was distant ; but the third, M. Gar- 
rett, Esq., seeing the low condition of the health 
of his father, removed him to his own house, 
where he shortly after died in great peace. When 
evidently fast sinking to the grave, he w r as fre- 
quently roused up and asked respecting his feel- 
ings in prospect of death. He always assured his 
kind and attentive son, and other friends who 
came to see him, that e all was well with Lewis 
Garrett.' On one occasion, and just before his 
death, a local minister called to see him, and, ad- 
dressing him, asked, i Brother Garrett, do you 
know me ? Tell me, and let me know if all is 
well, and you are ready to die.' To which he re- 
plied, in his own laconic style, ' To be sure, 
Brother Goodloe, I know you well ; and I know 

184 Methodism in Tennessee. 

the Lord Jesus Christ too. His blood and right- 
eousness I make my only plea.' These were 
the last words he spoke. Soon after, he became 
speechless, but by signs gave testimony to the 
last that God was with him. We might expatiate 
on the many virtues of this venerable servant of 
God — his deep and undissembled piety, his zeal, 
his usefulness — of which there is abundant evi- 
dence, but it would extend this notice to an un- 
reasonable length. He leaves a wife, two sons, 
and several grandchildren to mourn his departure. 
It is not saying too much in praise of our departed 
brother, that there have lived but very few such 
men as Lewis Garrett, habitually pious, and ' holy 
in all manner of conversation and godliness.' How 
applicable to such a man and such a course the 
text selected for his funeral-sermon : ' I am now 
ready to be offered, and the time of my departure 
is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have 
finished my course, I have kept the faith : hence- 
forth there is laid up for me a crown of right- 
eousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, 
shall give me at that day; and not to me only, 
but unto all them also that love his appearing.' 

There are several errors in the foregoing adini- 
rable memoir, which we note here for the truth of 
history : 

1. Neither Barnabas McHenry nor James Haw 

Methodism in Tennessee. 185 

was on the Cumberland Circuit in 1787, but 
Benjamin Ogden was. 

2. It was in Kentucky, and not in the Cumber- 
land Circuit, where Mr. Garrett embraced religion. 

3. This memoir states that Mr. Garrett located 
in 1805, and returned to the Conference in 1816, 
and was successively on the Stone's River, Dixon, 
Cumberland, and Duck River Circuits, and on the 
Jackson's Purchase Mission, Duck River, and 
Forked Deer Districts. This is all incorrect. It 
was Lewis Garrett, Jr., a nephew of Lewis Gar- 
rett, Sr., who filled the above-named appointments. 
Lewis Garrett, Sr., as we have seen, reentered 
the Conference in 1824. 

Williams Kavanaugh, the colleague of Mr. Gar- 
rett, was a promising man, but at an early period 
married, and retired from the itinerant work. He 
afterward joined the Protestant Episcopal Church. 
His family, however, adhered to the Methodists, 
and to this day his name is honored in the Church 
by his posterity. Bishop Kavanaugh, Dr. Ben- 
jamin T. Kavanaugh, the Rev Williams B. Kav- 
anaugh, and other younger members of the family, 
are in the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South. The name is a household word 
in the Methodist Connection. 

Jacob Lurton, whose name stands in connection 
with the Cumberland Circuit this year, was a 
laborious and successful minister of Christ. He 

186 Methodism in Tennessee. 

traveled the West Jersey Circuit, in Virginia, in 
Pennsylvania, in Maryland, and in the West. He 
witnessed a gracious revival on the Cumberland 
Circuit, which extended into Kentucky His 
health, however, failed, and he retired at the end 
of this year from the itinerant work. He resided 
for awhile in Kentucky, but afterward removed 
to Illinois, where he ended his days in peace. 

Moses Speer was the colleague of Mr. Lurton 
on the Cumberland Circuit. He was a native of 
Maryland, but removed with his father to Ken- 
tucky while he was very young, and lived near to 
where the city of Louisville now stands. Here 
he commenced preaching. On the Cumberland 
Circuit he was very useful, and witnessed the out- 
pouring of the Holy Ghost upon the people. Dur- 
ing this year he was married to Miss Ewing, a 
lady of excellent family He located and lived 
for many years in the vicinity of Nashville, where 
he labored as a local preacher. He brought up a 
large and respectable family Two of his sons 
entered the ministry The Rev James Gr. H. 
Speer was admitted into the Tennessee Confer- 
ence in 1822, and was appointed to the Lebanon 
Circuit; in 1823, to Knox Circuit; and in 1824, to 
Little River, in East Tennessee. This year the 
Conference was divided, and the Holston Confer- 
ence set off. Mr. Speer fell into the Holston 
division, where he filled the Blountville Circuit 

Methodism in Tennessee. 187 

in 1825. Here his health failed, and he was 
placed on the superannuated list. He continued 
in this relation till 1833. Having married Miss 
O'Bryan, he removed to Robertson county, where 
he died in the faith. He left a widow (now Mrs. 
Gooch) and a small family of children, who are 
an honor to his name. 

The Rev. Samuel W Speer, D.D., now a mem- 
ber of the Louisville Conference, is also a son of 
the Rev. Moses Speer. It is a singular fact, that 
Moses Speer was the first Protestant minister who 
preached the gospel in Indiana, and that his son, 
Dr. Speer, is now, at the time of this writing, the 
first preacher of the South to visit the same State 
to establish a Southern Methodist Church therein. 

Miss Mary Speer, a daughter of the Rev Moses 
Speer, became the wife of the Rev. Greenberry 
Garrett, then a member of the Tennessee Confer- 
ence. She was a noble Christian woman, and, 
years afterward, died in Christ. She sleeps in 
South Alabama. Mr. Speer, in his old age, reen- 
tered the itinerant ranks, and labored in the bounds 
of the Red River Circuit, Arkansas Conference, 
in 1838, and in the Montgomery Circuit, Texas, 
in 1839. This year closed his earthly toil. He 
died in Christ, having passed his three-score years 
and ten. 

188 Methodism in Tennessee. 


Decrease in the membership — The reasons why — Revolution- 
ary War — Indian troubles — Civil history — State formed 
and admitted into the Union — Legislature — Colonel 
Weakley — Samuel Weakley and family — Tobias Gibson 
— Benjamin Lakin — Ebenezer Conference — General fast 
and thanksgiving. 

There was a decrease in most>of the circuits 
this year (1795.) Indeed, the work seemed 
almost at a stand-still, if really the cause was not 
losing ground. This, however, is not to be won- 
dered at, if the state of the country be borne in 
mind. It was not till this year that the Indian 
war was suspended — up to this date every thing 
seemed to be unfavorable, and the inhabitants 
labored under serious embarrassments. " Their 
frequent conflicts with the Indians, the War of 
the Revolution, and the exciting scenes through 
which the pioneers of Tennessee had passed 
during the formation at several periods of their 
civil government, had been accompanied with a 
necessary relaxation of morals. Religious instruc- 
tion and worship were necessarily neglected, and 
the forms even of religion were most imperfectly 

Methodism in Tennessee. 189 

maintained. The march of armies and the excite- 
ment of a soldier's life are little favorable to the 
culture of the moral sense : vice and immorality 
follow their train. The same may be said of 
the clamor and tumult attending upon political 
antagonism and faction : they have little tend- 
ency to make men better. The standard of 
morality is lowered, and the sacred fire of con- 
science burns less purely both in the congregation 
and the family Scenes of bloodshed and partisan 
animosity steel the heart against the commands 
of God." * Such is the picture drawn of the 
state of society in the early settlement of Ten- 
nessee, and such were the surroundings, which 
made it very difficult to advance the cause of re- 
ligion among the early settlers. The few minis- 
ters who came out as missionaries had to be 
guarded from fort to fort and from block-house to 
block-house. They had to carry their fire-arms, 
and often preach while the men of their congre- 
gations heard the word with their rifles in their 
hands, ready at a moment's warning to enter 
into deadly conflict with a merciless foe. 

A new order of things now arrests the atten- 
tion of the reader. Up to this time, Tennessee 
had been a Territory, not well defined in its boun- 
daries, and very unsettled in its government. 

* Ramsey's History of Tennessee. 

190 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Now the country is about to assume a more im- 
portant and imposing attitude. William Blount, 
Governor of the Territory, in accordance with 
provisions of an act of the Territorial Government, 
passed July 11, 1795, ordered an enumeration of 
the inhabitants of the Territory south of the Ohio 
River. The results are found in the following 
table, viz. : 

Slaves. Total. 

Washington county ,.. 978 10,105 

Jefferson " 776 7,840 

Hawkins " 2,472 13,331 

Greene " 466 7,638 

Knox " 2,365 11,573 

Sullivan " 777 8,457 

Sevier " 129 3,578 

Blount " 183 2,816 

Davidson " 992 3,613 

Sumner " 1,076 6,370 

Tennessee " .. 398 1,941 

10,612 77,262 

The population was sufficiently large to allow 
the Territory to be formed into a State ; hence a 
convention was called, a constitution formed, and 
application was made for admission as a State into 
the Federal Union. 

The first Legislature, under the new consti- 
tution, assembled at Knoxville, in March, 1796. 
The Representatives from Davidson county were 
Robert Weakley and Seth Lewis. Colonel Weak- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 191 

ley was an early settler on the Cumberland ; was 
an excellent surveyor, and located many valuable 
lands in this new and fertile region. He lived to 
old age, and died at his residence, on the north 
side of the Cumberland, about two miles from 
Nashville. The author preached his funeral- 
sermon. Colonel Weakley was a man of iron 
will and untiring energy He accumulated large 
property, and was considered one of the wealthy 
citizens of the State. He always maintained a 
good reputation, and was honored by his fellow- 
citizens. Not long after the introduction of 
Methodism into this country, he was converted, 
and united with the Church, and was a zealous 
member. He soon afterward was married to 
Miss Locke, of North Carolina — a most excellent 
lady, of a distinguished family Miss Locke, how- 
ever, was not a member of the Church, though 
piously trained among the Presbyterians. The 
preacher having pastoral charge of Colonel Weak- 
ley was a rigid administrator, and in enforcing an 
old rule in the Discipline, which did not allow the 
members of the Church to intermarry with "un- 
believers" he arraigned the Colonel. Mrs. Weak- 
ley was sorely afflicted, and though not a Church- 
communicant, she honored Christianity and highly 
esteemed Christians, and said that one reason 
which moved her to marry Mr. Weakley was, 
that he was a member of the Church. All this 

192 Methodism in Tennessee. 

had no influence with the inflexible preacher, and 
Colonel Weakley was separated from the Church. 
This harsh administration exerted a very per- 
nicious influence upon his mind, and for many 
years alienated him from the Church and from re- 
ligion. His wife in the meantime united with 
the Presbyterian Church, and became a devout 
Christian. Finally, the Colonel was reclaimed, 
reunited with the Church, lived many years a 
faithful and zealous member, and finally died in 
the faith. 

The following letter, dated Nashville, April 23, 
1869, was written by Robert W Brown, Esq., 
which the author incorporates with pleasure into 
this notice : 

"At your request, and with much pleasure to 
me, I give you a few incidents and facts in the 
life of your devoted friend, and my grandfather, 
the late Colonel Robert Weakley, who was the 
third son of Robert Weakley, Sr., of Halifax 
county, Virginia, a Welshman by birth, and an 
elder in the Presbyterian Church. Robert Weak- 
ley, Jr., was born July 2, 1764. At the age of 
sixteen, he fought in the battles of Guilford Court- 
house and Alamance. Sickness, from camp-fever, 
prevented his being at the surrender of Lord Corn- 

"April 18, with a horse, saddle, and bridle, and 
one dollar and seventy five cents, he left his 

Methodism in Tennessee. 193 

paternal home in Halifax, and repaired to his 
cousin, General Rutherford's, in North Carolina, 
to study surveying. He came to Nashville, I 
think, about the year 1783 or 1784. 

"He was early impressed with the great impor- 
tance of his soul's salvation, and while riding along 
the road all alone, save to the All-seeing Eye, ex- 
perienced the forgiveness of his sins, and shortly 
thereafter united himself to the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church. 

"In 1791, he married the daughter of General 
Matthew Locke, near Salisbury, North Carolina, 
who was not a member of any Church. For this 
act he was brought before the Church. The min- 
ister remarked, if he would express his regret at 
marrying his wife, he would not be excommuni- 
cated from the Church. At this remark he be- 
came so indignant that he withdrew from the 
Church ; but, thanks be to God, many years before 
his death, he was brought back to the fold again, 
and died an humble follower of the meek and 
lowly Jesus. Robert Weakley was a member, 
from Davidson county, of the first General Assem- 
bly of Tennessee, under the constitution of 1796. 
He was elected a member of Congress, from the 
Nashville District, in 1809. In 1811, his private 
affairs requiring his presence at home, he was not 
a candidate for reelection, and was succeeded by 
the Hon. Felix Grundy I have often listened 
VOL. i.— 9 

194 Methodism in Tennessee. 

with pleasure to my grandfather's description of 
the peculiarities or eccentricities of John Randolph, 
of Roanoke. 

"My grandfather heard Mr. Clay deliver his 
celebrated speech against the recharter of the 
United States Bank, which greatly increased his 
admiration of the distinguished Kentuckian. My 
grandfather was a "hard-money man' — opposed 
to all banks — and a democrat of i the State rights, 
strict constitutional construction school.' He 
w T as a member of the North Carolina Convention 
of 1788, that rejected the adoption of the Federal 

"In 1815, Robert Weakley, R. C. Foster, Sr., 
Jesse Wharton, and General Johnson, (father of 
the late Hon. Cave Johnson,) all from Middle 
Tennessee, and McMinn, of East Tennessee, were 
candidates for the gubernatorial chair. McMinn 
was elected, Robert Weakley receiving the next 
highest number of votes cast. In 1819, my grand- 
father was elected Speaker of the Senate, and was 
the principal friend of the late President James 
K. Polk in securing his election as Clerk of the 
House. My grandfather was reelected Speaker 
in 1823. The venerable Francis B. Fogg and my 
grandfather were the members from Davidson 
county to the Revised Constitutional Convention 
of 1834. My grandfather was frequently an act- 
ing Justice of the Quorum Court, which, if I mis- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 195 

take not, was succeeded by the present Circuit 
Court. He, as you know, was a great financier, 
and left to his descendants large possessions in 
real estate, near Nashville and Memphis ; and, 
although a man of towering ambition, yet integrity 
and uprightness were his polar stars. Like Gen- 
eral Washington, he always believed ' honesty 
was the best policy ' He possessed strong prej- 
udices, for and against. He was devoted to his 
friends. When a little boy, my grandfather and 
General Jackson made impressions on my youth- 
ful mind which have not been made by any I 
have known in later years. Robert Weakley's 
faults were incident to human frailty — his virtues 
few possessed. If my devotion to his memory 
borders too much on man-worship, I feel, Brother 
McFerrin, that you, who were his favorite minister, 
and the one selected by his family to preach his 
funeral-sermon, will at least pardon the fault, if 
fault it be. 

"P S. In 1791, General James Robertson, 
Major Edwin Hickman, Colonel Robert Weakley, 
and three chain-carriers, were surveying land in 
what is now Hickman county, Tennessee. The 
party encamped one night in a canebrake. Just 
before day, Major Hickman was awakened by a 
remarkable dream. He awoke Colonel Weakley, 
and, while telling him he dreamed the Indians had 
killed him, the two were startled by the rustling 

196 Methodism in Tennessee. 

or cracking of the cane, and on looking round, 
saw two Indians with guns leveled at them. One 
fired and killed Major Hickman ; the one aimed 
at Colonel Weakley snapped his gun, and he saw 
the Indian's fiendish grin of disappointment. The 
remaining five made their way home. Colonel 
Weakley reached Nashville, about sixty miles, 
raised a body of men, returned, found the body 
of Major Hickman, and gave it the best interment 
in their power. 

" I received these facts from my grandfather." 
His brother, Samuel Weakley, was also con- 
verted, and with his charming wife united with 
the Methodists. Their son, now the Rev- Dr. B. 
F Weakley, and their grandson, the Rev. Wickliff 
Weakley, of the Tennessee Conference, are some 
of the fruits of earlv Methodism. Some of Colonel 
Weakley's grandchildren* are now honored mem- 
bers of the Methodist Church, and have great 
reverence for the memory of their sainted grand- 

Seth Lewis, Colonel Weakley's colleague, after- 
ward removed to Louisiana, where he lived till 
old age. He was a gentleman of wealth and cul- 
tivation, and was a zealous Methodist, and brought 
up a large family, who occupied an elevated posi- 
tion. One of his daughters was the first wife of 

* Robert W Brown, Esq., and his sister. 

Methodism in Tennessee. lOf 

the Rev. William McMahon, D.D. ; another mar- 
ried the Rev- John Menifee, the father of Mrs. 
Huston, wife of the Rev. L. D. Huston, D.D., now 
of Baltimore. Judge Lewis was well known in 
the South, and highly honored. 

The change in the civil condition of the 
country seemed to have been a previous pre- 
paration for the great revival of religion, which 
followed a few years subsequently The popula- 
tion increased rapidly by immigration : new set- 
tlements were formed, and more effectual doors 
were opened for the spread of the gospel. In 
the meantime the ministers continued faithful in 
their vocation, and persevered in sowing the good 
seed, which sprung up after many days, bringing 
forth abundant fruit. 

Among the preachers of this year, w T e mention 
Peter Guthrie, who was appointed to the Cum- 
berland Circuit with William Burke. Benjamin 
Lakin and Nathanael Munsey were on the Green 
Circuit. Holston, Tobias Gibson and Aquila Jones. 

Among these, perhaps, the most prominent was 
Mr. Gibson. Many notices have been made of 
this devout servant of Jesus Christ, but no writer 
has presented an overwrought portrait. It would 
be difficult to exaggerate while speaking of the 
zeal, piety, or sufferings of Tobias Gibson. The 
following very full and satisfactory sketch we 
copy from the Minutes : 

198 Methodism in Tennessee. 

" Tobias Gibson was a native of South Car- 
olina, born in Liberty county, on Great Pee Dee, 
November 10, 1771. He was admitted on trial 
in 1792, and filled the following stations : Bush 
River, 1792 ; Santee, 1793 ; Union, 1794 ; Hoi- 
ston,1795; Edisto, 1796 ; Santee, 1797; Charles- 
ton, 1798; Anson, 1799 ; missionary to Natchez, 
1800, 1801, 1802, 1803, 1804. The 5th day 
of April, 1804, he died at Natchez, Claiborne 
county And what shall we say of this good 
man ? What motive was it that induced him to 
travel, and labor, and suffer so much, and so 
long? He had a small patrimony of his own, 
that improved, might have yielded him support. 
The promise of sixty-four dollars per annum, or 
two-thirds, or the half of that sum, just as the 
quarterly collections might be made in the cir- 
cuits, could not be an object with him. His 
person and manners were soft, affectionate, and 
agreeable. His life was a life of devotion to 
God. He was greatly given to reading, medi- 
tation, and prayer. He very early began to feel 
such exertions, exposures, and changes as the 
first Methodist missionaries had to go through 
in spreading the gospel in South Carolina and 
Georgia, preaching day and night : his feeble 
body began to fail, and he appeared to be super- 
annuated, a few years before he went to the 
Natchez country It is reported that when he 

Methodism in Tennessee. 199 

found his difficulties, after traveling six hundred 
miles to Cumberland, he took a canoe and put his 
saddle and equipage on board, and paddled him- 
self out of Cumberland into the Ohio River, 
and took his passage, six or eight hundred miles, 
in the meanders of the Great River : what he 
met with on his passage is not known — whether he 
went in his own vessel, or was taken up by some 
other boat, but he arrived safe at his port. After- 
ward, it was reported to the Conference that he 
said he was taken up by a boat. Four times he 
passed through the wilderness, a journey of six 
hundred miles, amidst Indian nations and guides, 
in his land-passages from the Cumberland settle- 
ment to Natchez. He continued upon his station 
till he had relief sent him from the Western 
Conference, where he came and solicited help 
in his own person, and in the habit of a very sick 

"A correspondent writes, ' He preached his last 
sermon on New-year's - day, 1804; that it was 
blessed to many that heard him ; that he visited 
him in his sickness; that Tobias Gibson said 
he was not afraid to die, and appeared to wish 
for the hour ; that he was a pattern of patience, 
humility, and devotion, through his life and 
death at Natchez; that the fruits of his labors 
are visible to this day; that he was greatly 
esteemed by the people of God, and respected 

200 Methodism in Tennessee. 

and revered in some degree by the people of the 
world, as a Christian and a minister.' When 
Elijah was taken away, there was an Elisha : we 
have two valuable men that will supply his 
place; but still Gibson opened the way: like a 
Brainard, he labored and fainted not, nor dared to 
leave his station till death gave him an honorable 
discharge. The writer of these memoirs has 
been more explicit than usual, to show the modern 
preachers how some of their elder brethren have 
labored and suffered, and how extensively they 
have traveled, that they may see how ancient 
fields and vineyards, now delightful and fruitful 
spots, were won by the sword of the Lord and 
Gideon; and think how their brethren lodged 
upon the cold ground, exposed to savages ; of 
their want of water, food, sleep, and friends; 
passing hills, vales, mountains, rivers, and rocks ; 
of a man's taking down his bag of corn for his 
bed, and his saddle for his pillow, not knowing 
but he might feel the Indian death-blow, or hear 
the dying groans of one of his fellow-travelers, 
or be himself the victim. Thanks be to the 
Most High, who hath now stilled the heathen 
round about ! Hark ! as if we heard the voice 
of Tobias Gibson, crying in the wilderness be- 
tween Cumberland and Natchez — a voice of prayer, 
preaching, exhortation, and praise; but now 
in heavenly songs he joins to praise the eternal 

Methodism in Tennessee. 201 

Trinity, in eternal unity in the land of rest, the 
saints' delight, the heaven prepared for all faithful, 
holy preachers, and people ! 

" The author of these memoirs thought he had 
gone far in the character and praise of Tobias 
Gibson ; but by appealing to the yearly Confer- 
ence in South Carolina, some of the elders present 
thought it was far too low ; that Tobias Gibson 
did for many years preach, profess, possess, and 
practice Christian perfection ; and that those who 
were acquainted with him, must be impressed 
with his depth of piety ; that infidelity itself 
would stagger before such a holy, loving, and de- 
voted man of God." 

The colleague of Mr. Gibson, Aquila Jones, 
traveled a year or two after this, and then retired 
from the active work. 

Benjamin Lakin was born in Maryland, August 

23, 1767; was of an English family; was left an 

orphan when nine years old ; removed with his 

mother to Kentucky about the year 1793. In 

1794, he began to preach, and in 1795, he was 

admitted on trial and placed on the Green Circuit. 

He afterward labored in the great revival in 

Kentucky, and in Ohio a few years as a local 

preacher, but generally as an active, successful, 

and faithful itinerant. He won many souls to 

Christ, and was a zealous and able advocate of 

Methodism. He received Bishop Kavanaugh and 

202 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Dr. J. P. Durbin into the Church. He died in 
peace, in the State of Ohio, in the year 1846. 
His name has left a sweet savor. 

" The Conference this year was held at Ebene- 
zer — Earnest's neighborhood — on the Nolichucky, 
the last week in April. We passed through the 
wilderness this year without much apprehension 
of danger. The most of the preachers from 
Kentucky met their brethren on the Holston 
District. This was the largest Annual Confer- 
ence we had ever seen in the West. Bishop 
Asbury attended, and it was a Conference of con- 
siderable interest." * 

There were Conferences held this year also in 
Baltimore, in Virginia, in Charleston, in Con- 
necticut, in New York, and in Philadelphia, and 
a General Conference at Baltimore. To give the 
reader some idea of the spirit of those times, we 
copy the following from the General Minutes : 


It is recommended by the general traveling 
ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church, that 
the first Friday in March, 1796, should be held 
as a most solemn day of fasting, humiliation, 
prayer, and supplication. It is desired that it 
should be attended to in all our societies and 
congregations, with sabbatical strictness ; that we 

* William Burke. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 203 

should bewail our manifold sins and iniquities; 
our growing idolatry, which is eovetousness and 
the prevailing love of the world; our shameful 
breach of promises, and irreligious habits of mak- 
ing contracts, even without the intention of honest 
heathens to fulfill them; our superstition, the 
trusting in ceremonial and legal righteousness, 
and substituting means and opinions for religion ; 
the profanation of the name of the Lord; the 
contempt of the Sabbath, even by those who 
acknowledge the obligation we are under to keep 
it holy, for many make no distinction between 
this and a common day, and others make a very 
bad distinction, by sleeping, walking, visiting, 
talking about the world, and taking their pleas- 
ure ; too many also, in many parts of the country, 
profane the sacred day, by running their land and 
water-stages, wagons, etc. ; disobedience to par- 
ents, various debaucheries, drunkenness, and such 
like; to lament the deep-rooted vassalage that 
still reigneth in many parts of these free, inde- 
pendent United States ; to call upon the Lord to 
direct our rulers, and teach our senators wisdom ; 
that the Lord would teach our people a just and 
lawful submission to their rulers ; that America 
may not commit abominations .with other corrupt 
nations of the earth, and partake of their sins and 
their plagues ; that the gospel may be preached 
with more purity, and be heard with mare affec- 

204 Methodism in Tennessee. 

tion; and that he would stop the growing infidelity 
of this age, by calling out men who shall preach 
and live the gospel; that the professors may be- 
lieve the truths, feel the power, partake of the 
blessings, breathe the spirit, and obey the pre- 
cepts of this glorious gospel dispensation; that 
Africans and Indians may help to fill the pure 
Church of God. 


It is recommended by the general ministry, to 
all our dearly beloved brethren and sisters that 
compose our societies and sacred assemblies, to 
observe the last Thursday in October, 1796, a^s a 
day of holy gratitude and thanksgiving; to lay 
aside the cares of the world, and to spend the day 
in acts of devotional gratitude : as a Society, to 
give glory to God for his late goodness to the an- 
cient parent Society from whom we are derived ; 
that they have been honored with the conversion 
of hundreds and thousands within these two years 
last past ; for such a signal display of his power 
in the Methodist Society, within the space of 
twenty-six years, through the continent of Amer- 
ica, as may be seen in the volume of our Annual 
Minutes, published in 1795; for the late glorious 
and powerful work we have had in Virginia and 
Maryland, and which still continues in an eminent 
and special manner in some parts of our American 

Methodism in Tennessee. 205 

Connection; for the many faithful public wit- 
nesses which have been raised up, and that so 
few (comparatively speaking) have dishonored 
their holy calling; that we have had so many 
drawn from the depth of sin and misery to the 
heights of love and holiness among the subjects 
of grace, numbers of whom are now living, and 
others have died in the full and glorious triumph 
of faith ; to take into remembrance the goodness 
and wisdom of God displayed toward America, by 
making it an asylum for those who are distressed 
in Europe with war and want, and oppressed 
with ecclesiastic and civil tyranny ; the merciful 
termination of our various wars, the pacifications 
of the savage tribes, and the rapid settlement 
and wonderful population of the continent; that 
we have been able to feed so many thousands at 
home and abroad ; that we have had such faithful, 
wise, and skillful rulers ; that we have such good 
constitutions formed for the respective States ; 
for the general Union and Government, that this 
may be kept pure and permanent ; for the admi- 
rable revolution, obtained and established at so 
small a price of blood and treasure; that religious 
establishments by law are condemned and ex- 
ploded in almost every spot of this extensive 
empire ; and for African liberty : we feel grati- 
tude that many thousands of these poor people 
are free and pious. 

206 Methodism in Tennessee. 

The numbers in Society were : Holston, 269 
whites, 15 colored; Green, 300 whites, 15 col- 
ored; Cumberland, 230 whites, 47 colored. 

The whole membership in America this year 
amounted to — whites, 48,121; colored, 12,170; 
preachers, 313. 

Thus in twenty-two years the Church had in- 
creased from 1,160 members and 10 preachers to 
the numbers above given. This advance was made 
amidst the most troublous times. The Revolu- 
tionary War had taken place and passed away ; 
the Indian wars had deluged the frontiers with 
blood, and sorrow and sadness had shrouded the 
land. The Methodists were persecuted, and many 
of their preachers threatened and denounced as 
Tories. And all this, because Mr. Wesley, a 
citizen of England, and a subject of Great Britain, 
was at the head of the societies, and expressed 
loyal sentiments to his home -government. But 
the reader need not be astonished at this. Such 
is the frailty of human nature, the corruption of 
the human heart, and such the prejudice that 
sways the human mind, that men are censured, de- 
nounced, condemned, excommunicated, martyred, 
because of opinion's sake. Many who peruse these 
pages will appreciate these remarks. 

It is not generally understood, however, that 
Mr. Wesley saw reason to change his views con- 
cerning " the rebellion." We hope it will not be 

Methodism in Tennessee. 207 

considered out of place to copy the following letter 
from Mr. Wesley to Lord North, dated Armagh, 
June 15, 1775 : 

My Lord : — I would not speak, as it may seem 
to be concerning myself with things that lie out 
of my province ; but I dare not refrain from it 
any longer. I think silence in the present case 
would be a sin against God, against my country, 
and against my own soul. But what hope can I 
have of doing good, of making the least impres- 
sion upon your lordship, when so many have 
spoken in vain, and those far better qualified to 
speak on so delicate a subject ? They were better 
qualified in some respects ; in others they were 
not. They had not less bias upon their minds ; 
they were not free from worldly hopes and fears. 
Their passions were engaged ; and how easily do 
those blind the eyes of their understanding ! 
They were not more impartial; most of them 
were prejudiced in the highest degree. They 
neither loved the king nor his ministers ; rather 
they hated them with a perfect hatred ; and your 
lordship knows that you could not, if you were a 
man, avoid having some prejudice to them. In 
this case it would be hardly possible to feel the 
full force of their arguments. They had not 
better means of information, of knowing the real 
tempers and sentiments either of the Americans 

208 Methodism in Tennessee. 

on the one hand, or the English, Irish, or Scots 
on the other. Above all, they trusted in them- 
selves, in their own power of convincing and 
persuading ; I trust only in the living God, who 
hath the hearts of all men in his hands. And 
whether my writing do any good or no, it need 
do no harm ; for it rests within your lordship's 
breast whether any eye but your own shall see 
it. I do not intend to enter upon the question, 
whether the Americans are in the right or in 
the wrong. Here all my prejudices are against 
the Americans ; for I am a High-churchman, the 
son of a High - churchman, bred up from my 
childhood in the highest notions of passive obedi- 
ence and non-resistance ; and yet, in spite of all 
my long-rooted prejudices, I cannot avoid think- 
ing, if I think at all, these, an oppressed people, 
asked for nothing more than their legal rights, 
and that in the most modest and inoffensive 
manner that the nature of the thing would allow. 
But waving this, waving all considerations of 
right and wrong, I ask, Is it common sense to 
use force toward the Americans ? A letter now 
before me, which I received yesterday, says, 
" Four hundred of the regulars and forty of the 
militia were killed in the late skirmish." What 
a disproportion is this ! And this is the first 
essay of raw men against regular troops. You 
see, my lord, whatever has been affirmed, these 

Methodism in Tennessee. 209 

men will not be frightened ; and it seems they 
will not be conquered so easily as was at first 
imagined. They will probably dispute every 
inch of ground, and, if they die, die sword in 
hand. Indeed, some of our valiant officers say, 
" Two thousand men will clear America of these 
rebels." No, nor twenty thousand, be they 
rebels or not, nor perhaps treble that number. 
They are as strong men as you; they are as 
valiant as you, if not abundantly more valiant, 
for they are one and all enthusiasts — enthusiasts 
for liberty- They are calm, deliberate enthusi- 
asts; and we know how this principle breathes 
into softer souls stern love of war, and thirst of 
vengeance, and contempt of death. We know 
men, animated with this spirit, will leap into a 
fire, or rush into a cannon's mouth. 

" But they have no experience in war." And 
how much more have our troops ? Very few of 
them ever saw a battle. " But they have no dis- 
cipline." That is an entire mistake. Already 
they have near as much as our army, and they 
will learn more of it every day ; so that in a short 
time, if the fatal occasion continue, they will 
understand it as well as their assailants. " But 
they are divided amongst themselves." So you 
are informed by various letters and memorials. 
So, doubt not, was poor Rehoboam informed con- 
cerning the ten tribes. So, nearer our own times. 

210 Methodism in Tennessee. 

was Philip informed concerning the people of the 
Netherlands. No, my lord, they are terribly 
united. Not in the province of New England 
only, but down as low as the Jerseys and Penn- 
sylvania. The bulk of the people are so united 
that to speak a word in favor of the present 
English measures would almost endanger a man's 
life. Those who informed me of this, one of 
whom was with me last week, lately come from 
Philadelphia, are no sycophants ; they say noth- 
ing to curry favor ; they have nothing to gain or 
lose by me. But they speak with sorrow of heart 
what they have seen with their own eyes, and 
heard with their own ears. 

These men think, one and all, be it right 01 
wrong, that they are contending pro arts et 
focis ; for their wives, children, and liberty. 
What an advantage have they herein over many 
that fight only for pay ! none of whom care a 
straw for the cause wherein they are engaged; 
most of whom strongly disapprove of it. Have 
they not another considerable advantage ? Is 
there occasion to recruit the troops ? Their sup- 
plies are at hand, and all round about them. 
Ours are three thousand miles off! Are we then 
able to conquer the Americans, suppose they are 
left to themselves? suppose all our neighbors 
should stand stock-still, and leave us and them to 
fight it out ? But we are not sure of this. Nor 

Methodism in Tennessee. 211 

are we sure that all our neighbors will stand 
stock-still. I doubt they have not promised it ; 
and, if they had, could we rely upon those prom- 
ises ? Yet it is not probable they will send ships 
or men to America. Is there not a shorter way ? 
Do they not know where England and Ireland 
lie ? And have they not troops, as well as ships, 
in readiness ? All Europe is well apprised of 
this : only the English know nothing of the 
matter ! What if they find means to land but ten 
thousand men ? Where are the troops in England 
or Ireland to oppose them? Why, cutting the 
throats of their brethren in America ! Poor 
England, in the meantime ! " But we have our 
militia — our valiant, disciplined militia. These 
will effectually oppose them." Give me leave, 
my lord, to relate a little circumstance, of which 
I was informed by a clergyman who knew the 
fact. In 1716, a large body of militia were 
marching toward Preston against the rebels. In 
a wood which they w T ere passing by, a boy hap- 
pened to discharge his fowling-piece. The soldiers 
gave in all for lost, and, by common consent, 
threAV down their arms and ran for life. So 
much dependence is to be placed on our valorous 

But, my lord, this is not all. We have thou- 
sands of enemies, perhaps more dangerous than 
French or Spaniards. As I travel four or five 

212 Methodism in Tennessee. 

thousand miles every year, I have an opportunity 
of conversing freely with more persons of every 
denomination than any one else in the three king- 
doms. I cannot but' know the general disposition 
of the people — English, Scots, and Irish; and I 
know a large majority of them are exasperated 
almost to madness. Exactly so they were through- 
out England and Scotland about the year 1640, 
and in a great measure by the same means ; by 
inflammatory papers which were spread, as they 
are now, with the utmost diligence, in every 
corner of the land. Hereby the bulk of the popu- 
lation were effectually cured of all love and rever- 
ence for the king. So that, first despising, then 
hating him, they were just ripe for open rebellion. 
And, I assure your lordship, so they are now. 
They want nothing but a leader. Two circum- 
stances more are deserving to be considered : the 
one, that there was at that time a decay of general 
trade almost throughout the kingdom ; the other, 
there was a common dearness of provisions. The 
case is the same in both respects at this day. 
So that even now there are multitudes of people, 
that, having nothing to do, and nothing to eat, are 
ready for the first bidder ; and that, without in- 
quiring into the merits of the cause, would flock 
to any Avho would give them bread. Upon the 
whole, I am really sometimes afraid that this evil 
is from the Lord. When I consider the astonish- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 213 

ing luxury of the rich, and the shocking impiety 
of rich and poor, I doubt whether general dis- 
soluteness of manners does not demand a gen- 
eral visitation. Perhaps the decree is already 
gone forth from the Governor of the world. Per- 
haps even now, 

"As he that buys surveys a ground, 
So the destroying angel measures it around. 
Calm he surveys the perishing nation ; 
Ruin behind him stalks, and empty desolation." 

John Wesley. 

214 Methodism in TennessW. 


Conference at Nelson's— Conference in Kentucky— Scarcity 
of preachers — A new circuit — Bishop Asbury visits the 
country east of the mountains — Members returned by 
States — God with his Church in the wilderness— John 
Page : his labors and influence — Francis Poythress : his 
labors and popularity — Obadiah Strange — John Buxton 
— W Duzan. 

The Conference for the year 1796, Mr. Burke 
says, was held at Nelson's, near Jonesboro, in 
what was still called Western Territory It met in 
April. The Minutes of 1795 say that the Con- 
ference would convene in New Territory, April 20, 
1796.* Bishop Asbury was present, having reached 
the place by his old route, crossing the mountains 
between Burke county, North Carolina, and Wash- 
ington county, Tennessee. In Finley's Sketches 
of Western Methodism, Mr. Burke says : 

" In order to reach this Conference, we had a 
long and tedious journey through the wilderness 
of upward of one hundred miles, without a house. 

* It appears that a Conference was held at Masterson's 
Chapel, Kentucky, on the 20th of April, Francis Poythress 
presiding, in the absence of Bishop Asburv. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 215 

We had to pack on our horses the provisions 
necessary for ourselves and horses for three days 
and nights, and to camp out in the open air. The 
company consisted of James Campbell and Joseph 
Dunn, preachers, myself and wife, and a nephew 
of my wife. The last night we encamped we were 
very apprehensive that the Indians would rob u:,, 
consequently some of us kept awake through the 
night; but we had no interruption, and the i^e^t 
day we reached the settlement in the neighbor- 
hood of where Knoxville is now situated. The 
day after we entered the bounds of Green Circdit, 
where I had traveled in the year 1792, and were 
now among our old friends. We arrived at Nel- 
son's the day before the Conference commenced, 
and met Bishop Asbury The business of the 
Conference was done in peace and harmony. I 
shall always remember what Mr. Asbury said 
while my character was under examination before 
the Conference, and before I withdrew He stated 
to the Conference that Brother Burke had accom- 
plished two important things the past year—' the 
defeat of the OKellyites, and he had married a 
wife.' It was well known to the preachers in 
those days that Mr. Asbury did not approve of 
their marrying, and, if they did marry, that it 
was necessary to locate ;• but, notwithstanding the 
opposition of the preachers and people, I felt it 
my duty to travel as long as Providence opened 

216 Methodism in Tennessee. 

my way Accordingly, I received my appoint- 
ment that year on Guilford Circuit, North Caro- 
lina. I immediately proceeded to my appoint- 
ment, my wife accompanying me." 

In the Life and Times of Dr. Patton, the au- 
thor, Dr. McAnally, states "that the Bishop 
complained of a scarcity of preachers, and could 
only send one to each circuit, though the Minutes 
show two on the Green Circuit : perhaps he was 
sent after the entry was made in Mr. Asbury's 
Journal. The District in Holston was changed 
back to what it had been in 1794. John Kobler 
continued Elder, and Green Circuit was supplied 
by John Page and Nathanael Munsey " On the 
Holston Circuit, Obadiah Strange was the preacher. 
Francis Poythress was reappointed to the District 
embracing Middle Tennessee, and John Buxton 
and William Duzan were placed on the Cumber- 
land Circuit. A new circuit appears in the Ap- 
pointments for this year, which was doubtless set 
off from the Cumberland Circuit — viz., Logan, 
lying just across the State line, in Kentucky. 
Aquila Sugg was the preacher. 

"While in the Holston country this year, Bishop 
Asbury visited the frontier settlements in the 
northern part of Russell county, Virginia, and 
preached to such as could be from time to time 
gathered together. He notes, while on this trip, 
that he had been on the waters of the Nolichucky 

Methodism in Tennessee. 217 

to the mouth of Clinch, all along the north, middle, 
and south branches of the Holston, at the settle- 
ments on New River, and was now hunting up 
the scattered ones near the head-waters of Clinch 
River." * 

The returns of the numbers were given this 
year by States as well as by circuits. Had this 
plan been continued, it would have saved much 
confusion in the minds of those who have been 
employed in collecting the statistics of the Church. 
The numbers returned for 1796 were as follows : 
Cumberland, 190 whites, 30 colored; Green, 313 
whites, 13 colored; total in Tennessee, 503 whites, 
43 colored. It will appear from the above figures, 
first, that many of the members who had here- 
tofore been returned with the circuits in Tennes- 
see were now numbered with circuits lying in 
Virginia and Kentucky; and, secondly, that up 
to this time there had not been a great increase 
in the membership in the New Territory The 
reasons are obvious to the reader, if he has con- 
sidered the unsettled state of the country, as here- 
tofore noted in these pages. The marvel is, that 
the Church, amidst so many conflicting and un- 
friendly elements, lived at all. But God was with 
"the Church in the wilderness," and she was not 
devoured by the beast ; and when she came out, 

*Dr. Mc Anally. 
vol. i. — 10 

218 Methodism in Tennessee. 

" she was fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and 
terrible as an army with banners." 

A new name appears on the list of the Tennessee 
Appointments this year, which became familiar in 
all the West. John Page, as we have seen, was placed 
on the Green Circuit. Mr. Page was a native of 
Fauquier county, Virginia — born Nov. 22, 1766; 
died June 17, 1859. In 1791, he was married to 
Miss Celia Douglass, who was a lady of an excel- 
lent and influential family; and in 1792, he en- 
tered the Conference as a traveling preacher. It 
was very remarkable, that a married man, in those 
days, should attempt to continue in the itinerant 
work. The settlements were sparse, the circuits 
very extensive and far apart, the support meager, 
and the perils numerous ; yet Mr. Page, in the 
face of all these embarrassments, obeyed the divine 
call, and, conferring not with flesh and blood, he 
went forth, like Abraham, not knowing whither 
he went. Now he was in Kentucky, then across 
the mountains in Virginia and East Tennessee, 
again in Kentucky and in the Cumberland coun- 
try — on large circuits, extensive Districts, and 
uncultivated missions — preaching day and night, 
and building up the infant Church in the faith of 
Jesus. Mr. Page was an able minister, a strong 
doctrinal preacher, and defended Methodism with 
a will. He was very popular with the masses, 
and wielded a powerful influence with the multi- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 219 

tildes. He was often forced into controversy, and 
never failed of conquest. He was an original 
thinker, and possessed a clear, logical mind, and 
being well skilled in debate, fluent in language, 
and eloquent and forcible in style, it was a risk 
for any one to engage with him in discussion. As 
he lived so long, and labored so extensively and 
successfully, and did perhaps not less, if not more, 
than any other man in establishing Methodism in 
Tennessee, and confirming the churches, the reader 
will expect an extensive notice of him. 

Mr. Carr, in his Early Times in Middle Ten- 
nessee, says : 

" John Page was among the early pioneers of 
the West, and was admitted on trial as a traveling 
preacher in 1792, and stationed on the Lexington 
Circuit, Kentucky He traveled various circuits 
in Kentucky — for those were days of real itiner- 
ancy, preachers seldom remaining on one station 
more than three or six months. He then had to 
learn how to endure hardships, suffer afflictions, 
and brave the dangers of the wilderness — to trav- 
erse the frontiers, follow the by-paths along which 
the Indians frequently skulked, or lay in ambush, 
to bear privations, and labor with no other pros- 
pect of notice or reward than that promised by 
his Divine Master, who had sent him, and who 
himself had not where to lay his head. He con- 
tinued to travel in Kentucky and Tennessee until 

220 Methodism in Tennessee. 

the great revival of religion in 1800, in which he 
acted a conspicuous and useful part. I was an 
eye-witness to the labors and usefulness of John 
Page. He was ranked among the first order of 
preachers of his day The Church was under 
stronger obligations to John Page than to any 
man I knew of his day- He was a strong de- 
fender of the doctrines held by the Methodist 
Church ; he possessed a great deal of originality, 
and was devoted to the itinerant system, and con- 
tinued to travel and preach as long as he was 
able. At the Conference of 1802, which I have 
noticed in a former chapter, a new District was 
laid off, called the Cumberland District. John 
Page was appointed Presiding Elder, which ap- 
pointment he filled with a great deal of usefulness. 
The District was very large : if I am not mis- 
taken, it embraced all Middle Tennessee and the 
southern part of Kentucky I believe that Lewis 
Garrett followed him as Presiding Elder ; and after 
Garrett, William McKendree, afterward Bishop 
McKendree. John Page was such a lover of the 
itinerant system, that, after he became worn out 
with age and hard labor, he still held a super- 
numerary relation to the Conference, and attended, 
I believe, the Annual Conferences, as long as he was 
able to get to them. He was living, a few weeks 
ago, [1857,] in Smith county, at the advanced aaje 
of near ninety, T think, and, I am told, so entirelv 

Methodism in Tennessee. 221 

superannuated that there is a guardian appointed 
to take care of him and his property. I am not 
capable of portraying the worth of this excellent 
man of God. I knew him long and well, our 
wives being pretty nearly related. He raised a 
pretty large — and, I am told, a very respectable 
— family of children, who are all grown ; and he 
is in possession of a handsome property, enough 
to make him entirely comfortable through life." 

In 1834, Mr. Garrett, in his Recollections of 
the West, wrote thus of Mr. Page : 

" John Page was one of the early pioneers of 
the West — was admitted on trial as a traveling 
preacher in 1792, and stationed on Lexington 
Circuit, Kentucky He traveled the various cir- 
cuits in Kentucky, for these were days of real 
itinerancy : preachers seldom remained on one 
station more than three or six months. He then 
had to learn how to 6 endure hardness,' suffer 
affliction, brave the dangers of the wilderness, 
traverse the frontier, follow the by-paths, along 
which the ferocious savage frequently skulked or 
lay in ambush, bear poverty, bear privation and 
labor, with no other prospect of notice or reward 
than that promised by his Divine Master, who 
had sent him, and who himself had 'not where to 
lay his head.' He continued to travel in the West 
till the time of the great revival of religion in 
1800, in which he acted a conspicuous and useful 

222 Methodism in Tennessee. 

part. He is now superannuated, unable to sustain 
the labors of an itinerant life." 

Dr. Redford, in his Methodism in Kentucky, 
says of Mr. Page : 

" Of his early life and training we have no 
record, nor are we informed in reference to the 
date of his conversion, nor of the instrumentality 
through which he was brought to Christ. He was 
twenty-six years old when his name first appears 
on the roll of the Conference. 

"Judge Scott, from whom we have already 
quoted, says : ' The Rev John Page was a large, 
splendid-looking man, of an open, manly counte- 
nance. He possessed a sound, discriminating 
judgment, and was regarded as an able, useful 
minister of the gospel, wherever he traveled.' 

"From 1792 to 1859, his name is found on the 
roll of the Conference, with the exception of the 
period embraced in the years between 1804 and 
1825 — during which time he sustained the relation 
to the Church of a local preacher. 

" The first four years of his itinerant ministry 
were spent in Kentucky, on the Lexington, Dan- 
ville, Salt River, and Limestone Circuits. In 
1796, he was appointed to Green Circuit, in East 
Tennessee ; but in 1797, he was returned to Ken- 
tucky, and appointed to the Hinkstone Circuit; 
and, the following year, to the Salt River and 

Methodism in Tennessee. 223 

"In 1799, he had the distinguished honor of 
succeeding William Burke on the Cumberland Cir- 
cuit, lying partly in Tennessee and partly in 
Southern Kentucky. 

"The General Minutes of 1800 place him on 
the Holston, Russell, and New River Circuits,* 
embracing a large extent of territory in East Ten- 
nessee and Western Virginia ; but we learn from 
a letter written by himself, as well as one written 
by Bishop Asbury — both of which are published 
in the South-western Christian Advocate, of March 
22, 1844 — that his removal from the Cumberland 
Circuit met with the dissatisfaction of the people 
whom he had served with much usefulness and 
success. He had hardly entered upon his new 
field of labor until Episcopal prerogative called 
him away-f 

* In the South-western Christian Advocate, of March 22, 
1844, Mr. Page calls this appointment New River, Holston, 
and Clinch. 

t Rev. Learner Blackman, in his manuscript, says : " In 
the year 1800, Bishops Asbury and Whatcoat, accompanied 
by Elder McKendree, in their visit to the western country, 
passed through the settlements of Cumberland. The work 
of the Lord was going on in the most pleasing manner ; but 
they saw that the Methodist cause was most likely to suffer 
in consequence of the neglect of Methodist discipline. They 
immediately transferred John Page from New River Circuit, 
in Virginia. He had previously been stationed in Cumber- 
land, and was one of the principal instruments, under God, 

224 Methodism in Tennessee. 

" He says : ' I was in New River Circuit when 
the letters of Bishops Asbury and Whatcoat were 
handed me, urging me to hasten to Cumberland 
with all speed. I had just finished my sermon. I 
took my dinner and started, and reached my des- 
tined place as soon as I could. The work — as it 
had been — was still going on.' 

" The work to which he alludes was that extra- 
ordinary display of divine power, which began in 
1799, in the Cumberland Circuit, and spread with 
unparalleled success throughout the settled por- 
tions of Northern or Middle Tennessee and South- 
ern Kentucky If this remarkable revival of 
religion did not owe its origin to the instrumen- 
tality of John Page, it certainly was promoted 
and extended through his pious labors and exer- 
tions. In the section of Kentucky and Tennessee 
in which he labored, among the many distinguished 
ministers of his day, he was always the central 
figure — the most commanding person. In the 
altar, in the pulpit, in the social circle — mingling 
now with the more wealthy and refined, and then 
in the humble cabins of the poor — he vindicated 
himself as a useful and faithful minister of Jesus 
Christ, until his name in all this region became a 
household word — the synonym of all that is good. 

of the great revival, so much talked of over the United 

Methodism in Tennessee. 225 

No wonder Bishop Asbury said, in his letter to 
him, i Had I attended at the last Holston Confer- 
ence, you should have returned immediately to 
Cumberland. I should have had the petition that 
was sent for your return. Had I known what 
had taken place, I should have dismissed you 
when I passed by you. I hope you will now 
hasten to that charge as soon as possible. The 
eternal God be your refuge and strength !' 

" Uncommon as it was to continue a preacher 
any considerable time in the same field of minis- 
terial labor, yet we find that this remarkable man 
is continued on the Cumberland Circuit during 
the years 1801 and 1802, and in 1803 we find 
him in charge of the Cumberland District as Pre- 
siding Elder. This District — including only four 
separate charges, namely, Nashville, (formerly 
Cumberland,) Red River, Barren, and Natchez — 
was confided to the supervision of John Page ; 
while he had for his assistants in the work such 
men as Thomas Wilkerson, Jesse Walker, James 
Gwin, Jacob Young, and Tobias Gibson. 

" In the discharge of the functions of his office, 
his long rides, his constant exposure, together 
with his incessant labors, broke down a constitu- 
tion that hitherto had refused to yield to the 
exertions of so many years ; and at the close of 
the first year on the District, he asked for and 
obtained a location. After this period, his name 

226 Methodism in Tennessee. 

appears no more in connection with the Church 
in Kentucky - 

" In 1825, he was readmitted into the Tennes- 
see Conference, and remained a worthy member 
of that body until his death, which occurred on 
the 17th day of June, 1859 — only eight years of 
which time he was able to preach regularly, sus- 
taining the most of the time a superannuated 
relation to the Conference. In the ninety-third 
year of his age, and the sixty-eighth of his minis- 
try, the ' weary wheels of life stood still.' 

" We make the following brief extract from the 
General Minutes : 

" ' Just before his death, he declared that he 
was ready and willing to die, and would soon be 
done with old earth and all its troubles and afflic- 
tions — then fell into a sweet sleep, to wake up in 
the land of eternal life.' 

" In contemplating the character of such a man, 
how gratifying to the Church that his life was so 
protracted ! He had seen the Church in its in- 
fancy, when it seemed to be only ' a reed shaken 
by the wind ;' he marked it as it gradually de- 
veloped and gathered strength ; and he beheld it, 
as his sun was setting, gigantic in its proportions, 
dispensing its blessings all over the land. When 
he entered the itinerancy in Kentucky and Ten- 
nessee, there were but two Districts, embracing 
nine circuits,, and only nineteen traveling preachers, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 227 

and only twenty-six hundred and seventy-four white, 
and two hundred and one colored, members. At 
the time of his death there were, in the same ter- 
ritory, five Annual Conferences, embracing forty- 
four Districts, and four hundred and eighty -six 
stations, circuits, and missions ; six hundred and 
eighty-ninetrsLYelmg and sixteen hundred and seventy- 
six local preachers, and a membership of one hun- 
dred and fifty-five thousand five hundred and eighty- 
four white, and thirty thousand seven hundred and 
ninety-six colored ! 

" If, in the morning of his life and the strength 
of his manhood, it was to him a source of pleasure 
to devote his energies to the Church, how great 
must have been the satisfaction he derived, as, in 
its evening, he contemplated the success and the 
triumph Christianity had achieved !" 

Among the early and most noted preachers in 
the Connection, the name of Francis Poythress 
stands prominent. He was a Virginian by birth, 
and belonged to a family of fortune, for those early 
times. When young, he was wild, and somewhat 
reckless. Through the influence of a pious and 
intelligent lady, he was # brought to pause, reflect, 
and change his life. He was under the religious 
training of an Episcopalian clergyman, Rev- Mr. 
Janet, but, meeting with a Methodist preacher in 
the southern part of the State of Virginia, or in 
North Carolina, who furnished him with the doc- 

228 Methodism in Tennessee. 

trines and discipline as drawn up by Mr. Wesley, 
he was impressed with their scriptural authority, 
and at once united with the Methodists, and was 
admitted into the traveling connection, at Balti- 
more, in 1776. For eleven years he preached on 
circuits, and presided as Elder on Districts in 
North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. \ In 1788, 
he was appointed in charge of the District embrac- 
ing Cumberland, which comprised the whole work 
in what we now call Middle Tennessee, his field 
extending to Northern Kentucky — indeed, em- 
bracing the whole field occupied by the Method- 
ists in that territory He was continued in this 
work, having charge of the District, till 1796, 
when his health failed, and for one year he was 
on the supernumerary list. The next year, 1798, 
he was on the District embracing Holston; in 
1799, returned to Kentucky ; and in 1800, he was 
on a large District in North Carolina. Here his 
health failed, and his mind gave way, so that he 
rendered no more efficient labor, but lingered out 
his remaining years at the house of his sister, near 
Lexington, Kentucky, where he died in 1818. 

Mr. Poythress was a preacher of more than 
ordinary talents, of sound judgment, and great 
administrative abilities. In the absence of Bishop 
Asbury, he presided in the Conferences, and ap- 
pointed the preachers to their work. His talents, 
piety, ability, and fidelity so secured the conn- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 229 

dence and approbation of Bishop Asbury, that he 
was anxious to see him elected Bishop. 

Mr. Carr, in his Early Times in Middle Ten- 
nessee, gives the following brief sketch of this 
eminent servant of the Church : 

: ' Francis Poythress was the first _ Presiding 
Elder that ever came to this country. He had 
the bearing of one who had been well raised, his 
deportment being very gentlemanly; but he ap- 
peared to be somewhat melancholy in disposition. 
He was an acceptable preacher, though he did not 
possess the first order of talents. He was greatly 
gifted in prayer ; and it seemed, when he prayed, 
that heaven and earth were coming together. I 
think he discharged his duty as a Presiding Elder 
as well as most men do in that office. He had 
passed the meridian of life. 

"At that day, our fare in this country was ex- 
tremely rough, as already observed ; but I never 
heard the old elder complain of any thing set be- 
fore him. One incident I must mention. Know T - 
ing our destitution, and being quite weakly, he 
had provided himself with a canister of tea, which 
he carried with him. One night, having stopped 
at the house of a brother, he gave the canister to 
the good sister, with a request that she would 
make some tea for him. She took it to the kitchen, 
and, having poured the leaves into a vessel, she 
gave them a thorough boiling ; then, putting them 

230 Methodism in Tennessee. 

into a pewter plate, she brought them and set 
them before her guest. This done, she began, in 
the kindness of her heart, to apologize to the old 
elder because she could not boil the tea down. He 
looked at it, and simply said, ' Why, sister, you 
have spoiled all my tea — it was the broth I 
wanted.' You may think it strange a married 
woman should be so ignorant, but it was even the 
case. In fact, I assure you, when I was married, 
I do not believe I had drunk a half-dozen cups of 
coifee, and I know not that I had ever seen anv 
specimen of imported tea. 

" Francis Poythress, I think, continued in the 
work till about the year 1800, when he became 
seriously deranged in intellect, and remained in 
that distressing situation for many years. At 
length he died, at the house of his sister, Mrs. 
Susannah Pryor, in Jessamine county, Ken- 

The Rev Thomas Scott, his contemporary, gives, 
in Finley's Sketches of Western Methodism, an 
extended notice of the life and labors of Mr. Poy- 
thress, from which we make the following ex 
tracts : 

" He was — if we rightly remember — about five 
feet eight or nine inches in height, and heavily 
built. His muscles were large, and, when in the 
prime of life, we presume he was a man of more 
than ordinary muscular strength. He dressed 

Methodism in Tennessee. 231 

plain and neat. When we first saw him, we sup- 
pose he had passed his sixtieth year. His muscles 
were quite flaccid, eyes sunken in his head, hair 
gray— turned back, hanging down on his shoulders 
—complexion dark, and countenance grave, inclin- 
ing to melancholy His step was, however, firm, 
and general appearance such as to command the 
respectful consideration of others. He possessed 
high, honorable feelings, and a deep sense of moral 
obligation. In general, he was an excellent dis- 
ciplinarian. He endeavored to probe to the bot- 
tom each wound in the Church, in order that a 
radical cure might be effected ; but would never 
consent to expel from the bosom of the Church 
those who evidenced contrition and amendment. 
And when free from the morbid action of his sys- 
tem, to which it becomes our painful duty to refer, 
we esteemed him to be a man of sound discrimi- 
nating judgment. 

" We are not aware that any hereditary taint 
existed, which, in its ultimate range, dethroned 
his reason ; but we can readily imagine that the 
seeds of that dreadful malady were sown in his 
system by the constant exposures and sufferings 
during the War of the Revolution, and the twelve 
years he traveled and preached in the then almost 
wilderness of the West. Among the eight pio- 
neers of Methodism in Kentucky and Tennessee, 
in the year 1788, the name of Francis Poythress 

232 Methodism in Tennessee. 

stands preeminent. By those intrepid heroes of 
the cross the foundation of Methodism was laid in 
those States, on which others have since built, and 
others are now building. Their names ought to 
be held in grateful remembrance by all who love 
our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth ; but, 
among all, we are inclined to the opinion, there is 
not one of them to whom the members of our 
Church, in those States, owe a greater debt of 
gratitude than to Francis Poythress." 

Obadiah Strange continued a year or two, and 

One of the early itinerants in Holston was 
Nathanael Munsey He settled in South-western 
Virginia, and continued to labor as a local preacher, 
in Virginia and East Tennessee, till his death. He 
had several sons and grandsons who were Meth- 
odist preachers, among whom we mention the Rev. 
T. K. Munsey, of the Holston Conference, and 
the Rev. W E. Munsey, D.D., now Secretary of 
the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, South. 

John Buxton and William Duzan, who traveled 
the Cumberland Circuit this year, were both good 
men. and able ministers. Mr. Buxton was far 
above ordinary, and filled many important stations 
in the Church. His labors in Tennessee and 
Kentucky were greatly blessed. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 233 


Six Annual Conferences for 1797 — Holston Conference — • 
Bishop Asbury — Bethel Conference — Uncertain state- 
ments — Thomas Wilkerson : letters from him — Mrs.Wil- 
kerson — Robert Wilkerson — Decrease in numbers : rea- 
sons why. 

By reference to the printed Minutes of 1796, in 
answer to the question, " Where and when shall 
our next Conferences be held ?" the answer is : 

1. Mayberry's Chapel, Virginia, November 15, 

2. Charleston, January 5, 1797 

3. Kentucky, at Bethel School, May 1, 1797 

4. Wilbraham, September 19, 1797 

5. Philadelphia, October 10, 1797 

6. Baltimore, October 20, 1797 

Nothing is said, as the reader perceives, about 
a Conference in Holston ; and yet Dr. McAnally 
states, in the Life of Dr. Patton, that " this year 
the Bishop again visited what he called the New 
Territory, intending to go to Cumberland, Middle 
Tennessee, and to Kentucky, but was too unwell. 
So, after meeting a few of the preachers in the 
upper part of East Tennessee, and holding the 

234 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Conference, he made his way as best he could 
toward Baltimore." 

Mr. Burke, in his Autobiography, says : " On 
the 4th day of March, 1797, I set out for the 
western country, [he came from North Carolina,] 
and met the Conference on Holston. Mr. Asbury 
was at the Conference." 

Bedford's History of Methodism in Kentucky 
states that a Conference was held at Bethel School, 
in Kentucky, on the 1st of May, according to pre- 
vious appointment. 

It is barely possible that the Bishop was at 
both places. The statements of these different 
writers cannot be well reconciled, and, it is said, 
the Bishop's Journal does not settle the question, 
as he made no entries for some weeks, about this 
time. No doubt both Conferences met and trans- 
acted business, but it is probable that the Bishop 
was at the Holston meeting, but not at the Bethel 

This year (1797) introduces Thomas and Robert 
Wilkerson into the work in Tennessee Thomas 
was appointed to the Cumberland Circuit, and 
Robert to the Green Circuit. 

They were natives of Virginia, and were born 
in Amelia county- Thomas entered the Confer- 
ence in 1792, being then only about twenty years 
of age. Having traveled several years in Virginia 
and North Carolina, he volunteered as a mission- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 235 

ary for the West, and traveled in Kentucky, 
Middle Tennessee, East Tennessee, and South- 
western Virginia, where he was highly esteemed 
as an able and faithful minister of the cross. We 
copy the following tribute to his memory from the 
Minutes of the Holston Conference for the year 

" Thomas Wilkerson was born some eighty-four 
years ago, about forty miles above Lynchburg, 
Virginia. He became deeply concerned about the 
salvation of his soul, and was happily converted 
to God, about the twentieth year of his age. Soon 
after this, he began to exhort and preach, with 
great power and success. His Christian brethren 
believed he ought to be received into the traveling 
connection, and he consented to be recommended 
accordingly He was duly received, and com- 
menced a course of labor which was signalized by 
uncommon success. He had so much confidence 
in the importance of his work, and in the integrity 
and management of Bishop Asbuiy, that he sub- 
mitted, without misgiving or complaint, to his en- 
tire control as long as he was able to do effective 
work. He traveled and preached in South-west- 
ern Virginia, East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, 
and Kentucky ; thence to Maryland, on the Balti- 
more Circuit, and in Baltimore City In all these 
places he was more or less useful, in some of them 
greatly so. Especially was he so in the great 

236 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Cumberland Revival, so called, being one of the 
chief instruments in its holy triumphs. His zeal 
led him beyond his strength, and his health failed. 
He rested for a time, and resumed his toils ; but 
soon he was painfully convinced that he could 
itinerate no longer, and, as was then the usage, he 
located, marrying and settling himself on Holston, 
nearly three miles above Strawberry Plains, Ten- 
nessee. Here he labored hard with his own hands, 
fearing, as he was heard to say, that he and his 
family would come to want, although his temporal 
circumstances were far from being gloomy His 
wife dying within a few years, he married a pious, 
intelligent lady at Strawberry Plains, where he 
lived many years, laboring as health would allow, 
preaching until, by request of his traveling breth- 
ren, he reentered the traveling connection in Hol- 
ston Conference. He was appointed Presiding 
Elder of the Knoxville District, but could undergo 
its toils and labors but one year. He was then 
stationed in Abingdon, Virginia, which station he 
filled one year, with great satisfaction to the 
people, and not without some indications of suc- 
cess. At the close of that year, he felt satisfied 
that he could be as useful to the Church, control- 
ling his own movements, as he could be under the 
stationing authority of the Church. Being quite 
feeble in health, he returned to his homestead at 
the Plains, the Conference granting him a super- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 237 

animated relation, which he retained to the day 
of his death. Some eight years after this, his 
second wife died. He married the third time, and 
settled near Abingdon, Virginia, where he closed 
his protracted labors. About the 1st of Decem- 
ber, 1855, he was so feeble that he was mostly 
confined to his bed, being able to sit up at times 
only. He talked frequently about his departure, 
and seemed fearful of only one thing — that he 
might be too anxious to depart. He was fearful 
of grieving the Spirit, by being too anxious about 
that thing. He said, ' The grave is a quiet rest- 
ing-place — death is a pleasant sleep ;' for he was 
weary of life's long labors. The last connected 
discourse he made was the following : ; If I had 
my time to go over, I would preach differently 
from what I have. I would preach more about 
eternity : I would strive to keep eternity always 
before the minds of my people. What is time but 
a vapor ? Eternity is all !' To the last, he would 
make broken remarks as to his peace and con- 
fidence in Jesus. Dying without pain, he breathed 
his last on the holy Sabbath, half-past ten o'clock 
p.m., February 3, 1856." 

Mr. Wilkerson's second wife (Mrs. Williams) 
was the mother of Mrs. Stringfield, wife of the 
late Rev. Thomas Stringfield, who for four years 
edited the South-western Christian Advocate, at 
Nashville. During Mr. Stringfield's residence in 

238 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Nashville, from 1836 to 1840, Mr. Wilkerson 
spent much time in Middle Tennessee. Though 
advanced in years, he frequently preached in the 
city and surrounding country, attending camp 
and other popular meetings. His ministry there 
" was in power and in the Holy Ghost." It was 
wonderful to witness his influence upon the multi- 
tudes, and to see how he could persuade men to be 
reconciled to God. 

In person, Mr. Wilkerson was of medium size, 
well proportioned, and very erect. His features 
were symmetrical, and his face benevolent; his 
voice was full, clear, and musical ; his manner in 
the pulpit grave and unaffected, and his style 
simple and elegant. Indeed, he might have 
been considered "a model man" and "a model 
preacher." He was plain in his dress, but refined 
and polished in his manners. His remains sleep in 
the rear of the Methodist Church at Abingdon, 

This sketch is concluded by copying three let- 
ters addressed to the author while he was editor 
of the South-western Christian Advocate : 

Abingdon, Va., June 12, 1841. 

Dear Brother McFerrin :— You say in the S. 

W C. Advocate, No. 239, that you deeply regret 

that our brethren of age and experience do not 

write more for your paper. I do not like to be 

Methodism in Tennessee. 239 

delinquent in duty; but there are two things 
which make me hesitate : first, I do not like to be 
the hero of my own story, and I can think of no 
other way of writing ; second, we old canebrake 
folks do not know how to prepare what we write 
for the press. Mr. Stringfield told us to write, 
and he would put the grammar to it, but you have 
made no such promise, and I know you have 
enough to do. I have concluded to write any- 
how, and pay the postage — so I will only tax 
your eyes and a little of your time ; and then you 
can do as you think best, for I can assure you I 
am not anxious that my poor production should 
go to the world. If this sketch of my life goes 
under your big screw, and does not groan too 
piteously, you may hear from me again. 

I was born in 1772 or '73, of irreligious parents, 
consequently had not the advantage of a religious 
education; but the Spirit of the Lord strove with 
me when but a little removed from infancy 
About the thirteenth year of my age, I was 
seriously convicted, under the preaching of the 
poor, despised Methodist preachers, then called 
the false prophets ; but by associating with wicked 
boys, I lost my convictions and became sevenfold 
more the child of the devil than before. I fled to 
infidelity for refuge, and though I scoffed at re- 
ligion, yet, like devils, I believed and trembled. 
When about eighteen years of age, while in full 

240 Methodism in Tennessee. 

pursuit of the world, I was arrested by the Spirit 
of the Lord, in a very extraordinary way After 
shamefully desecrating the Sabbath, in the even- 
ing, when some of the family returned from 
preaching, I was told that there was a great 
revival of religion in the neighborhood, and that 
some of my associates were subjects of the work. 
My opposition ripened into malice against the in- 
struments and subjects of the excitement. I am- 
bitiously said to my brother, When you see me 
with my companions again, you will see them as 
wicked as they ever were. I instantly felt con- 
viction for what I had said — something within 
seemed to say, Will it not be enough for you to go 
to hell ? will you try to drag others with you ? It 
became a gloomy evening to me ; but when the 
world became shrouded in darkness, and nature 
seemed to pause around, the pains of hell gat 
hold on me — my weight of guilt seemed sufficient 
to crush me to destruction in a moment. I 
promised the Lord, if he would spare me, the 
residue of my days should be devoted to him. 
I found the downy pillow no longer suited to a 
subject of wrath, as I then saw myself; I has- 
tened to my father's orchard and bowed before the 
mercy-seat, but black despair environed around. 
To the, best of my recollection, the night was 
spent in prayer, sometimes on my knees, and 
then, like a miserable ghost, blackened by ten 

Methodism in Tennessee. 241 

thousand crimes, wandering in the darkness of the 

The next week I spent much of my time in 
prayer, sometimes almost in despair. Sabbath- 
day I joined the Methodist Church : my friends 
and acquaintances seemed very much surprised. 
The following week was spent pretty much as the 
former — my distress became almost intolerable. 
On Saturday evening, about dusk, I took to the 
woods almost in despair. As I was making my 
way through the bushes, I thought I saw a flash 
of lightning — almost instantly it was repeated. 
I recollect nothing more till I found myself on my 
feet -with my hands raised, while loud shouts 
seemed to burst from the bottom of my heart. I 
have yet to look back to that period to find the first 
real comfort I ever felt. I did not know what 
was the matter with me — it was something new. 
I did not know it was religion, and tried to regain 
my former exercises of weeping and mourning for 
sin ; but as soon as I would get on my knees, I 
would involuntarily rise to my feet and commence 
shouting, which I thought very strange, as I had 
been violently opposed to shouting. While rea- 
soning upon the subject I lost my confidence, and 
then considered my case a desperate one : my 
conviction was gone, and I did not believe I had 
religion. The next day, (being Sabbath,) I went 
to meeting, and in class-meeting told the breth- 
vol. t. — 11 

242 Methodism in Tennessee. 

ren, as well as I could, what I had seen and felt, 
and how I had been exercised ; and while my own 
feelings were overburdened with shame and sorrow, 
I saw some of the brethren smile — I thought it was 
unfeeling and cruel. I remained in this situation 
until the Wednesday following, and then started 
to see an old disciple that lived in a kind of cove 
in the mountains, hoping he would be able to give 
me some advice, or in some way be a means of 
my delivery from my very unpleasant situation; 
but on my way I turned aside and got on my 
knees to ask the Lord to make the counsel of that 
brother a blessing to me. The Lord unveiled his 
lovely face ; my burden was gone ; I felt the love 
and joy that I had felt before. I went on not to 
trouble my old friend with my tale of woe, but to 
tell him what the Lord had done for my poor 
soul, and we greatly rejoiced. I now obtained 
the faith of assurance, and have never since 
doubted but the Lord converted my soul ; and if 
I should be lost at last, it will be because I have 
fallen from grace. Having seen and felt my 
miserable situation and the danger to which I was 
exposed, and believing all sinners were in the 
same situation, and must for ever burn in that 
hell the flames of which I had partially felt, so 
affected my mind and body, that my constitution 
sunk under the conflicting emotions in my breast. 
I saw it was just in God to send them to hell, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 243 

yet I could not bear the shock. The thought of 
an immortal spirit dwelling for ever in that pit 
where the worm never dies and the fire is not 
quenched, overpowered me so that it was thought 
that I was wasting in a pulmonary consumption. 
Medical aid w T as resorted to in vain. Society 
became disagreeable to me; so much so, that I 
spent most of my time in the woods, praying and 
reading in the New Testament, pleading with the 
Lord to have mercy upon our poor guilty world. 
After some time, one of my physicians told my 
father he thought the seat of my disease was 
in the mind. Believing he had judged rightly, I 
changed the course of treatment, and soon recov- 
ered some strength of intellect and health of 
body- Shortly after, I was licensed as an ex- 
horter and appointed leader of a class, and was 
well-nigh sinking under the cross, for considerable 
congregations would attend. I would sometimes 
commence at one side of the house and insensibly 
make my way into the midst of the congregation, 
when I would come to myself, and find all around 

The Lord owned and crowned my feeble 
efforts with success, which greatly encouraged 
me. I had become pretty well reconciled to 
be a class -leader and exhorter. I loved my 
class, and had sweet fellowship with them. 

Thomas Wilkerson. 

244 Methodism in Tennessee, 

I was not suffered long to enjoy the society of 
my class : the preachers began to urge me to 
join the itinerant connection. I at first thought I 
could never submit to be a traveling preacher, not 
having the first qualification. To avoid the solic- 
itations of the preachers and quiet my own 
mind, I determined to marry, and settle myself 
in the world. Preparatory to this step, I planted 
and had a good crop in a progressive state. 
When pressed to take the circuit, my apology was, 
I must stay at home and take care of my crop ; 
but I was deprived of this excuse by an early 
frost, which destroyed most of my crop, but 
injured no other person, except my father, who 
had some tobacco growing near mine. I thought 
this to be a judgment on me for my disobedience. 
Having nothing to call my attention at home, I 
promised Brother Metcalf, (then traveling our 
circuit,) to meet him in Manchester, Virginia, 
where Conference was to be held, in the Ml of 
1792. From4his Conference I was appointed to 
travel on the Franklin Circuit, with John Norman 
Jones and Samuel Sale Stuart. None but my 
gracious Lord and myself knows what I suffered. 
I thought myself an imposition on the people, 
and not fit to eat their bread. I was again 
w T orn down almost to a skeleton. I was sur- 
prised that the preachers and people were so kind 
to me. This was, in my opinion, the iron age of 

Methodism in Tennessee. 24 b 

Methodism in the United States. I thought if 
the Lord would make me instrumental in the sal- 
vation of one soul, I should be richly paid for a 
whole lifetime of labor and suffering. The Lord 
was pleased greatly to encourage me, by giving 
me some living epistles, known and read of all 
men, one of whom died in the triumphs of faith. 
Our next Conference was held in Petersburg, 
Virginia. I had very little satisfaction at Con- 
ferences. I did not feel worthy to associate with 
the preachers, and was left to pass my time in 
rather a gloomy way At this Conference I was 
appointed to travel the Greenville Circuit, with 
Stephen Davis and Laurence Mansfield. On this 
circuit I saw the evils of schisms and divisions in 
the Church. James O'Kelly seceded from the 
Methodist Episcopal Church in 1792, and caused 
the division of many classes and families, which 
caused much discussion and contention among the 
people, to the great injury of the Church and 
declension of piety It would grieve me to hear 
the piteous tales of aggrieved brethren; but I 
still found many fathers and mothers, brothers 
and sisters, who were steadfast in faith, and un- 
wavering in their discipleship. That distinguished 
man, Stephen Davis, seemed set for the defense 
of the Church, and confirmed the faith of many ; 
so that the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker, 
and the house of David stronger and stronger: 

246 Methodism in Tennessee. 

our ranks were filled with new disciples. "While 
on this circuit, I had liked to have been destroyed 
by pride. Some incautious brethren said I had 
preached a great sermon. When it came to my 
ears, my spiritual enemies improved it to the best 
advantage, till I was led to believe I was a consid- 
erable preacher, and should get along for the time 
to come swimmingly ; but my good physician ap- 
plied the proper corrective. For nearly one week 
I could scarcely imitate preaching. I despaired 
of ever being favored with my poor gifts again. 
I had put up for the night with a simple-hearted, 
pious family — went to bed heavily laden with 
grief and shame ; and while I lay praying and 
musing on my wretched situation, the power of 
the Lord was displayed in an extraordinary man- 
ner. To me (at least to the eye of my mind) 
there was a visible light — my first impression 
was the judgment-day had come, and what would 
become of sinners. A young man in bed with 
me, who had no religion, was suddenly in an 
agony. The whole family below started from 
their beds. We all soon met, and were rebap- 
tized with the Holy Ghost. As well as 1 recol- 
lect, most of the night was spent in praising the 
Lord for his condescending goodness to us. The 
next day I was humble enough to be trusted with 
my former dispensation. 

After traveling on Greenville Circuit about 

Methodism in Tennessee. 247 

six months, I was removed to Bertie Circuit. 
In this circuit I acted in conformity to a resolu- 
tion I had taken : " To know nothing among men 
but Jesus Christ, and him crucified." I was 
slighted by the gayer sort of people, but found 
the hearts and houses of the pious poor open to 
me. Thank the Lord, the poor have the gospel 
preached to them. 

Here I was much afflicted, but attended to my 
appointments; when I was able, I felt willing 
and anxious to serve this sickly and dying peo- 
ple. I never saw more clearly the propriety and 
advantage of dealing faithfully with my charge ; 
for though I gave offense at first, most of the 
brethren came into the measures of the gospel, 
and the usages of the Methodist Church ; and we 
had a tender and weeping parting. The brethren 
sent a petition to Conference requesting my re- 
turn to them. Our next Conference sat at May- 
berry's Chapel, Virginia. I was still afflicted 
with ague and fever. There was a Macedonian 
call from Kentucky Bishop Asbury would not 
take the responsibility on himself to appoint 
where life was to be in danger, but called for 
volunteers. John Buxton and I offered our ser- 
vices : we were to go in the spring following. 
William McKendree was appointed to travel the 
Bedford Circuit, and I was sent to travel with 
him during the winter. My ague continued, yet 

248 Methodism in Tennessee. 

I lost but five appointments; but I suffered in 
the flesh. Sometimes I would have my shake on 
horseback, and then a burning fever. At one 
time I thought I was not able to sit on my horse, 
and lay down in the leaves in the woods. I had 
not lain long before I began to think I might die 
there alone. I summoned up all my energies, 
and got to a house. Brother Askew, our Presid- 
ing Elder, came along, stopped me about a week, 
in which time I gained some strength. 

In the spring of 1805, Brother Buxton and 
myself started for Kentucky I was worn down 
by affliction, scarce of clothes, and every other 
comfort of life. We met Bishop Asbury at the 
Western Conference, which sat at Earnest's, in 
Greene county, Tennessee. He said I must do 
like some of the emigrants, stop on Holston and 
get breath. I, however, was appointed to Hink- 
stone Circuit, Kentucky We had to pack oiir 
provisions for man and horse for nearly two hun- 
dred miles, lie on the ground at night, having a 
guard stationed around us. I was apprehensive 
such exposure would be fatal to me in my deli- 
cate state of health. In the evening before the 
first night, I lay without a bed — I had an ague, 
which was the last I ever had. What I thought 
would make much against me, was so overruled 
as to prove the means of my cure. My health 
rapidly improved; so that I was soon able to 

Methodism in Tennessee. 249 

undergo the hardships of a pioneer. I now saw 
the excellence of the itinerant plan. We kept up 
with the frontier settlements, preached to the 
people in their forts and block-houses. Here I 
met no D.D.'s, to discuss doctrines, or make out 
reports about moral wastes. We had nothing to 
contend with, (from without,) but the Indians, 
the wild beasts, and smaller vermin. We thought 
ourselves quite well accommodated if we had a 
half-faced camp or a cabin to shelter us, and some 
wild meat to eat. It has been a matter of in- 
quiry how we found such easy access to the 
frontier settlements. We followed the openings 
of Providence, as did Mr. Wesley- Owing to 
the uncertainty of land -titles, emigrants would 
squat down on the frontiers, where they could 
get permission. Our brethren, moving from the 
old settlements together, would settle in the same 
neighborhood. As soon as they could build some 
cabins, they would go in search of a preacher ; 
and there would be a society raised. As soon as 
they became acquainted with the country, they 
would seek homes of their own; and, as lands 
were always cheapest on the frontiers, the class 
would scatter in different directions, and, as be- 
fore, search out the preachers and invite them to 
their houses : so we had not to go in search of 
preaching-places, but the people searched' out the 


250 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Mr. Editor, while I am on this subject, I will 
answer another inquiry : How were the people 
first brought to receive the Methodist preachers 
and their doctrines ? (I can only answer for the 
neighborhood where I was raised.) The novelty 
of their preaching produced great excitement. 
Some said they were good men ; others said nay, 
they deceive the people. Many, however, would 
go and hear for themselves, and the inherent power 
of gospel truth would arrest them; conviction 
for sin would cause them to inquire what they 
must do to be saved. This led to reading the 
Scriptures and examining doctrines. (For there 
was much controversy ) The following inquiries 
would take place : Are the Methodists, or some 
other denomination, right ? If the Calvinists are 
right, and God, for the purposes of his own 
glory, did foreordain whatsoever comes to pass, 
then the Methodists cannot be wrong; for he 
ordained there should be Methodists, and that 
they should preach and act just as they do ; but 
if the Methodists are right, and man is a free 
agent, the Calvinists must be wrong, and, by 
trusting to their election, may lose their souls. If 
the Antinomian is right, the Methodist Christian 
is safe ; for his believing he can fall from grace, 
and using all diligence to make his calling and 
election sure, will not make him fall ; but if the 
Methodists are right, the Antinomian must be 

Methodism in Tennessee. 251 

dangerously wrong, and by trusting to his once 
being in grace, may fall and perish for ever. If 
the Universalian is right, the Methodist is safe ; 
for if all are to be saved, the Methodist will be 
among them ; but if the Methodist is right, they 
must be wrong, and their purgatory may last for 
ever. If the infidel is right, the Methodist is on 
safe ground. If the whole system of religion is a 
mere farce, it is to the Christian a very safe and 
pleasing delusion; but if the Methodists are right, 
the infidel is dangerously wrong ; for he that be- 
lieveth not shall be damned. Hence, it was an 
easy matter for those who wished to save their 
souls, and be on the safe side, to choose their future 
course, and none but such durst join the Method- 
ist Church ; for there was great persecution. 

Thomas Wilkerson. 
July 31, 1841. 

After traveling all the circuits in Kentucky 
and what is now called Middle Tennessee, with 
various success, in 1798, I was sent to Holston 
Circuit, with that excellent man, Tobias Gibson, 
whose health failed, and I was left alone, on a 
four-weeks' circuit. Shortly after, Jeremiah Men- 
ter, (who was traveling on the Clinch River Cir- 
cuit,) informed me that I must connect his circuit 
with mine, as he would travel no longer, which 
gave me the work of three men. I understand 

252 Methodism in Tennessee. 

there are now five circuits in the bounds of the 
circuit I then traveled. I recollect eating my break- 
fast by candle-light in the morning, and my supper 
by candle-light at night ; traveling and preaching 
all day In the spring of 1799, I rejoined the 
Virginia Conference, and was sent to Yadkin Cir- 
cuit, North Carolina. This was a laborious circuit, 
as at that time it took in that range of high moun- 
tains running through Buncombe county Here I 
saw but little fruit of labor. In 1800, I was 
sent to Baltimore Circuit. I will here remark, 
that Mr. Asbury requested me to name over the 
circuits I had traveled ; and when I had done so, 
he said it was best to take the worst first. Here 
we had the most pleasing revival I ever witnessed. 
It commenced through the instrumentality of 
that excellent man, Wilson Lee. Some of our 
most distinguished men were converted during 
that revival. In 1801, (in consequence of the 
death of my father,) I was called to Kentucky, 
and traveled, during the summer, on the Lexing- 
ton Circuit, with William Burke. On this circuit 
we had a considerable revival. We found our 
Baptist friends a little troublesome. They brought 
their old proselyting engine to bear upon us ; but 
Brother Burke met them promptly, and so fully 
rebutted their arguments, that they failed to do 
the Church much harm. In the fall I started 
back to Baltimore ; but when I met Mr. Asbury 

Methodism in Tennessee. 253 

at the Holston Conference, he thought it best for 
me to go to the Cumberland Circuit, now called 
Middle Tennessee, where I remained until the fall 
of 1803. Here I witnessed the greatest excite- 
ment I ever saw The people were singularly 
exercised. Jerking, running, dancing, barking 
like dogs, were common exercises. The Pres- 
byterians and Methodists were united in this 
work ; but the union did not long continue : most 
of the Presbyterian preachers went back to their 
old doctrines and usages ; and those that did not, 
(as I am informed.) formed themselves into a 
Presbytery, called the Cumberland Presbytery 
This, I think, was the origin of the Cumberland 
Presbyterians. The preachers of my acquaint- 
ance among them, appeared to be devout men. 
Here I sunk under the labors, privations, and 
exposures I had to undergo. My life was de- 
spaired of for some time. The doctor thought my 
lungs would mortify- But my work was not 

I recovered slowly, and was able to get to 
Conference, which met on the north side of Ken- 
tucky River. During this union revival, I became 
convinced that it was best for each denomination 
to do their own work, in their own way. It was 
impossible to administer Methodist discipline 
strictly, for others would claim our privileges 
and usages, and we received nothing profitable in 

254 Methodism in Tennessee. 

return ; but the worst of all was, that the whole 
drama wound up unpleasantly. 

When I met Mr. Asbury at Conference, he 
said, " You look very slim." I told him I felt so. 
He then said I might go to any station I chose on 
the continent. I told him I would choose my 
relation to the Church, but would not take the 
responsibility of choosing my field of labor. The 
Bishop was petitioned to station a preacher in 
Lexington, Kentucky ; and I was sent there, and 
labored as much as my feeble frame would bear. 
It was a year of affliction to my body and mind. 
I saw but little fruit of my labor. But, glory be 
to God, through all the trying scenes I had to 
pass, my mind was stayed upon the Lord. The 
language of my heart was, " Though he slay me, I 
will trust in him." Death had no sting to me. 
When the doctor, with tears in his eyes, gave me 
his opinion, and told others I could not live more 
than three days, my soul was strong in faith, giv- 
ing glory to God. Thank the Lord for the buoy- 
ancy of a gospel hope ! 

At the next Conference, I was favored with a 
dispensation for six months. By traveling mod- 
erately, and preaching but little, my health was 
much improved, so much so that I reported my- 
self to the Presiding Elder as being able for effi- 
cient service, who sent me to the Limestone 
Circuit, Kentucky In the fall of 1805, I was 

Methodism in Tennessee. 255 

appointed to the Holston District. It then con- 
tained the bounds of three or four Districts, as 
they are now formed. I was anxious to be in 
every part of my work, to take care of the tem- 
poral and spiritual interest of the Church. In 
those days it w T as not thought a Presiding Elder 
could discharge his duty by attending the quar- 
terly-meetings ; but he was expected to travel 
through the circuits, and preach as much as he 
could. (But we were nearly all bachelors then.) 
My labors were so excessive that my health failed 
before the end of the second year; but I still 
attended the popular meetings as long as I was 
able to ride, after I was not able to preach, that 
the preachers and people of my charge might see 
that I did not use lightness. This was the third 
time that my friends pronounced that I should 
never be able again to do the duties of a traveling 
preacher ; but my heart heretofere said, Though I 
faint, I will still pursue ; but now lost all hope, 
and thought it best to change my relation to the 
Church. I wrote to the Conference, and obtained 
a location. It was a sore affliction to be removed 
from my itinerant brethren. And now T , when I 
have nearly lived out my three-score and ten years, 
let me say what I then wrote to the Conference — 
I owe all I am to the Methodists, as a means under 
the great Head of the Church ! They found me 
a poor, ignorant young man, laboring under a 

256 Methodism in Tennessee. 

solemn impression that a dispensation of the 
gospel was committed to me. They took me up, 
and recommended me to the people of their 
charge, sent me to labor where the fields were 
already prepared, or furnished the means, and 
gave authority to prepare others. I have never, 
for a moment, thought the Methodists under any 
obligations to me ; but I feel strong and abiding 
obligations to the Church for bearing with my 
weakness, sustaining and giving me currency 
among the people. I have always been surprised 
when brethren complained of the power and 
tyranny of the Bishops. I have ever had all the 
liberty I wanted, and would not be from under 
the care and direction of the Church for the riches 
of the world. Bishop Asbury bore my record 
on high, that I always said, Here am I, send me. 
I never thought myself better than my brethren. 
I did not wish to be eased, and another burdened. 
I was not willing that another should take my 
crown. If I were back on the other side of 
forty-five, I would willingly go to the most re- 
mote part of the work ; but age and infirmities 
circumscribe me. I have to travel the same 
beaten track, praying and striving to be fruitful 
in old age. I am resolved, if possible, to escape 
the rock so famous for the wrecks of old men. 
I pray the Lord to save me from gloominess and 
a censorious spirit; and, glory be to God! he 

Methodism in Tennessee. 257 

hears and answers prayer, and manifests himself 
to me in his milder attributes of mercy and love, 
so that my spirit at times feels all the buoyancy 
of youth. My heart is fixed, and I am waiting 
all my appointed time, till my change come. 

The errors of my life have been swarming 
round my pen all the time : I will now notice one 
of them. I was appointed, at a Conference held 
on Holston, Tennessee, to a circuit in Kentucky 
My horse failed on the way, and my company 
left me. (In those days we traveled in com- 
panies through the wilderness, for fear of the 
Indians.) I went to work until my horse was 
able to travel, then started alone. When I ap- 
proached the wilderness, (then about one hundred 
miles across,) the settlers on the frontier insisted 
on me to wait until a company was made up ; 
but I could not bear the thought of the congre- 
gations being disappointed. I pursued the track 
leading to Kentucky, until I had passed all the 
settlements, and was in the midst of danger, and 
then determined to push to the other side of the 
wilderness. Having had to lie by on the road, 
my provisions were spoiled ; so that I had noth- 
ing to subsist on but a small piece of dried beef 
and a lump of tree-sugar. In the midst of the 
wilderness, I met one of General Wayne's soldiers, 
almost starved. I divided my beef with him. 
By hard traveling, I reached a fort at night, and 

258 Methodism in Tennessee. 

the Lord gave me favor in the eyes of the semi- 
savages. They permitted me to keep my horse 
within the stockading, to preserve him from the 
Indians, gave me a little corn -bread and some 
milk to eat, and one blanket to sleep on. I gave 
an exhortation and prayed with them — lay down 
and slept soundly till morning. I started early, 
but had a gloomy day ; for I had heard that old 
Doublehead (an Indian chief) was under a curse 
to be avenged on the white people. I also passed 
a defile where the Indians had murdered some 
travelers. The next night I had more civilized 
society at the station where I put up. The day 
following I reached the settlements in Kentucky, 
but man and horse were so prostrated that neither 
could take much nourishment when we got it: 
my horse was not fit for farther service for 
about six months. I was soon refreshed, and 
able to do the duties of my station. 

Thomas Wilkerson. 
August 7, 1841. 

It is proper to say, in this connection, that Mrs. 
Williams belonged to one of the most respectable 
and influential families in Tennessee. She had 
an ample fortune, and lived in elegant simplicity. 
After her marriage with Mr. "Wilkerson, the same 
manner of life was observed. They resided on 
that beautiful farm on the Holston River, some 

Methodism in Tennessee. 259 

twenty miles above Knoxville, known as Straw- 
berry Plains. Here was displayed great hospi- 
tality : here the weary traveler and the faithful 
minister found a hearty welcome, Mrs. Wilkerson 
presiding in her unaffected and queenly manner. 
She was an educated and devout Christian, very 
plain and neat in her apparel, and always con- 
ducting herself as becometh women of holiness. 
Her death was peaceful, and her good works fol- 
low her. 

Thomas Wilkerson's brother Robert, though not 
his equal, was an able preacher. He continued 
but a short time in the traveling connection. He 
located, and preached in that relation for many 
years. The author, when he was a youth, had 
the pleasure of hearing him twice. The recollec- 
tion of his sermons, or their effect, is vivid. Though 
the preacher was advanced in years, he spoke with 
power, and an unction attended the word. Of the 
time and place of Robert Wilkerson's death, the 
writer has no knowledge. 

Nothing very remarkable transpired this year, 
(1797,) in connection with the work. Mr. Burke, 
who was on the Holston Circuit, at this period 
regarded as in immediate connection with the 
work in Virginia, says, " We had a gradual in- 
crease in the societies. I visited Clinch and 
Green Circuits in the course of the year, and 
attended several quarterly- meetings, which, in 

260 Methodism in Tennessee. 

those days of Methodism, were the only popular 
meetings where the preachers, when they could 
leave their circuits, met to help forward the good 
cause." The returns of the members showed a 
small increase in Tennessee this year : — Cumber- 
land, 201 whites, 26 colored; Green, 333 whites, 
16 colored; total, 534 whites, 4 2 colored. Through- 
out the Connection there seems to have been a 
spiritual dearth for two years ; hence there was a 
sad decrease in the number of the members and 
traveling preachers. In 1795, there were 48,121 
white and 12,170 colored members, and 313 
preachers. In 1797, there were 46,445 white 
and 12,218 colored members, and 262 preachers. 
Indeed, for the succeeding five years, there seems 
to have been but little progress. Why? Perhaps 
the answer may not be satisfactory to the reader, 
but to the mind of the author the following reasons 
appear plausible : 

1. During this period the war with the North- 
western Indians raged fiercely, which called thou- 
sands from home, and in a great measure disturbed 
the quiet of the country 

2. In the Methodist Societies a great disturb- 
ance was created by the disaffection of James 
O'Kelly Mr. O'Kelly was a man of talents and 
great popularity, and hence for a season he drew 
many away from the Churches, and prejudiced the 
minds of thousands who up to this time had been 

Methodism in Tennessee. 261 

friendly to Methodism. They now turned their 
sympathies another way 

3. The opening up of new territory in the 
North-west excited great attention, and drew the 
minds of the people toward the fertile soil north 
of the Ohio. This for a considerable period un- 
settled society, and broke up congregations, which 
could be reorganized only after protracted effort. 

4. The meager support of the ministry forced 
many of the most active and zealous preachers to 
abandon the work, and seek for subsistence in 
secular pursuits; indeed, it was almost the uni- 
versal practice for preachers, as soon as they got 
married, to leave the itinerant ranks. Popular 
sentiment said that married preachers should lo- 
cate. To the mind of the writer, this was the 
prime cause of a want of success at this period of 
the Church's history 

262 Methodism in Tennessee. 


The Conference in Holston — Extract from Dr. Patton's 
Life — Valentine Cook — Discussion with Mr. Jamieson — 
Dr. Stevenson's sketch — Mr. Burke again on Cumberland 
— Bethel College — Methodists the friends of education — 
Methodists in all the learned professions — Early action 
of the General Conference. 

The Conference was appointed to meet in Hol- 
ston, on the 1st of May, 1798. Dr. McAnally, 
in his Life and Times of Dr. Patton, makes the 
following note : 

"In the spring of this year, (1798,) the Conference 
met, and transacted the usual business. No refer- 
ence is made to this meeting in the Journal of 
Bishop Asbury, and, from its reading, the plain 
inference is, that he was not present. But yet 
Mr. Burke says he was. However this may have 
been, the usual returns were made, and the 
preachers reappointed. The District remained as 
it had been during the previous year, and, strange 
to say, the Minutes report it as supplied by both 
Francis Poythress and Jonathan Bird, as Presid- 
ing Elders. This, however, is most likely the 
result of some error committed in transcribins: or 

Methodism in Tennessee. 263 

printing the Minutes. The writer of this recol- 
lects to have once heard Mr. Bird say that, some 
time during the year, he was sent to supply this 
District, because Mr. Poythress had either failed 
in health, or been removed to some other field of 
labor, but does not now recollect which. The im- 
pression is, that Mr. Bird was traveling with 
Bishop Asbury when Mr. Poythress's health failed, 
and he was sent to take his place on the District. 
As to the circuits, they were supplied by Thomas 
Allen, on New Biver ; Obadiah Strange, on Bus- 
sell; Thomas Wilkerson, on Holston; and Henry 
Smith, on Green. As to extension, these circuits, 
from the first, embraced the principal settlements 
in the section of country already described, and 
the only extension they could have was by in- 
crease of appointments, as new settlements were 
formed, and the federal population increased. 

" The number of members reported was 803 
whites, and 51 colored ; total, 854 — a still farther 

This year introduces into the w r ork in Cumber- 
land one of the great lights of the Methodist 
Church, Valentine Cook. He was Presiding Elder 
on the District, and was the successor of John 
Kobler and Francis Poythress. Mr. Poythress 
was sent to Holston as Presiding Elder, while 
Thomas Wilkerson was on the Holston Circuit. 

Mr. Cook is so well known to the reading pub- 

264 Methodism in Tennessee. 

lie, that it would seem to be almost a work of 
supererogation to give the reader of these pages a 
sketch of his life ; yet no history of Western 
Methodism would be complete without incor- 
porating his name with it, and referring to his 
vast labors. .Mr. Cook entered the itinerant min- 
istry as early as 1778, and traveled the first four 
years in Maryland and Virginia. From Virginia 
he went to Pennsylvania, and labored in the 
vicinity of Pittsburgh, where he had a debate with 
the Rev Mr. Jamieson, a Scotch Seceder. This 
discussion gave Mr. Cook great fame as an able 
and learned minister, and opened the door for the 
introduction of Methodism in all that region. The 
next year he is in the mountains of Virginia, on 
the Clarksburg Circuit. In 1794, he is on a Dis- 
trict embracing Philadelphia and a large space of 
country in Pennsylvania. Again he is back in 
the mountains about Clarksburg, Virginia, and 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1798, he is on the 
Cumberland District, as Presiding Elder, preach- 
ing to immense congregations of delighted hearers. 
In 1800, his health failed, and he located and 
settled in Kentucky, where he was engaged for 
many years in teaching and preaching when he 
had physical ability He had charge, for several 
years, of Bethel Academy, a Conference school in 
Central Kentucky, and afterward he had super- 
vision of a private institution near Russellville, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 265 

Kentucky He was a great preacher — not only 
learned and acute, but he had an unction that 
was extraordinary A writer says of him : 
"Whole multitudes of people, on popular occa- 
sions, were moved by the Spirit of grace, under 
his preaching, as the trees of the forest were 
moved by the winds of heaven. His last public 
effort, as I was informed by those who were 
present, made at Yellow Creek Camp-meeting, in 
Dickson county, Tennessee, was a signal triumph. 
While preaching on the Sabbath, such a power 
came down on the people, and produced such an 
excitement, that he was obliged to desist till order 
was partially restored. Shortly after he resumed 
speaking, he was stopped from the same cause. A 
third attempt produced the same result. He then 
sat down, amidst a glorious shower of grace, and 
wept, saying, < If the Lord sends rain, we will 
stop the plow, and let it rain.' " 

Mr. Cook was married, in 1798, to Miss Slaugh- 
ter, and brought up a large family of children. 
Two of his sons were ministers of the Methodist 
Church — the elder died early ; the younger, the 
Rev. Thomas F. Cook, died in Texas a few years 
since, a man beloved and useful in his day 

The late Dr. Edward Stevenson, in Redford's 
History of Methodism in Kentucky, gives the fol- 
lowing interesting account of Mr. Cook's closing 
scene : 

VOL. i. — 12. 

266 Methodism in Tennessee. 

"A short time previous to his death, he attended 
a camp-meeting, some eight or ten miles from 
home. As usual, he labored with great zeal and 
success. He preached on the Sabbath to a vast 
crowd, from these words, ' For our light affliction, 
which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far 
more exceeding and eternal w T eight of glory.' — 2 
Corinthians iv 17 After a solemn and very im- 
pressive pause, he lifted his eyes to heaven, and 
said, ' What ! our afflictions work for us a weight 
of glory I — a far more exceeding and eternal weight 
of glory V and added, 'I believe it with all my 
heart, because thou, God, hast revealed it in 
this blessed volume.' The effect upon the con- 
gregation is said to have been very remarkable, 
and the discourse throughout has been represented 
as among the most able and effective that he ever 
delivered. This was the last sermon he preached, 
as I was informed by his weeping widow, a few s 
months after his death. 

" On his return home from this meeting, he was 
violently attacked with bilious fever. His case, 
from the first, was considered doubtful, and fin- 
ally hopeless. Conscious of his approaching dis- 
solution, he called his wife and children to his 
bedside, and, after taking a last earthly leave of 
his family, he committed them, with many expres- 
sions of confidence, to the guidance and protection 
of Almighty Goodness. When asked by one of 

Methodism in Tennessee. 267 

his neighbors, a few moments before his death, 
how he felt, he answered, < I scarcely know,' and 
then added, < When I think of Jesus, and of living 
with him for ever, I am so filled with the love of 
God, that I scarcely know whether I am in the 
body or out of the body ' These were the last 
words that ever fell from his lips. He died, as 
he had lived, ' strong in faith, giving glory to 


Mr. Burke, who was appointed to the Cumber- 
land Circuit this year, makes the following rec- 

"In the spring of 1798, Bishop Asbury met 
the Conference on Holston, and I was appointed 
to Cumberland again, having been absent two 
years. I traveled this year alone, and had not 
the pleasure of seeing the face of a traveling 
preacher through the entire year. The circuit 
had become very large, the country was settling 
very fast, and many additions to the Church made 
by certificate. During this year many local 
preachers emigrated, and settled in the bounds of 
the circuit. Rev John McGee settled at Dix- 
on's Springs ; Rev Jesse Walker settled on 
White's Creek. This year I became acquainted 
with J. A. Granade, who moved from the lower 
part of the State of North Carolina. He had in 

* Sketch of Cook, by Dr. Stevenson, pp. 75, 76. 

268 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Carolina professed religion; but on coming to 
Tennessee lie had fallen into a strange state of 
mind. He was in constant fear of hell, and de- 
spaired of ever being restored to the favor of God 
again. I did every thing in my power for his 
recovery He traveled with me considerably, and 
sometimes he would have lucid intervals — seasons 
when he appeared perfectly rational, and expressed 
a hope ; but suddenly he would relapse into mel- 
ancholy and despair again. 

" During this year I had to pay nearly a hun- 
dred dollars for a horse, and I found it hard to 
raise the money, and support myself, and pay the 
board of my wife ; however, I economized in every 
way I borrowed a blanket, and wore it instead 
of a great-coat through the winter, and by that 
means paid my debts. Upon the whole, I spent this 
year very agreeably, and with some success." * 

From the above paragraph, it appears that Mr. 
Burke was alone on Cumberland during the year 
1798, and yet the General Minutes place John 
Kobler and William Burke on the Cumberland 
Circuit. The Minutes are not always correct, 
and cannot be relied upon implicitly as to dates. 
Sometimes the ecclesiastical year does not corre- 
spond with the calendar year. The Conferences 
would sometimes convene in the latter part of the 

* Sketches of Western Methodism, pp. 5?, 53. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 269 

winter or spring, and then the Conference year 
would extend over to the same period the ensuing 
calendar year ; or, as we shall see as we progress, 
the Conferences were frequently held in autumn, 
or early winter : in that case, the year sometimes 
dates back and sometimes forward, thus producing 
confusion in the mind of the reader. 

Again, in those' early times, the preachers were 
frequently changed in the middle of the year, or 
at the end of three months, wdthout noting those 
changes in the Annual Minutes. In the case of 
Mr. Kobler, we have the difficulty solved. He 
was doubtless appointed, at the Conference, to the 
Cumberland Circuit; but, after the close of the 
Conference, Bishop Asbury sent him as a mis- 
sionary to Ohio, then called the North-western 
Territory. In after years, Mr. Kobler furnished 
a sketch for the Western Historical Society, from 
which we make the following extract : 

" There being a field open in the region north- 
west of the Ohio, and laborers being wanted, 
Kobler went over to travel the wilderness where 
we now live, and preached the gospel of Jesus to 
the scattered inhabitants. A sketch, furnished by 
him for the Western Historical Society, in August, 
1841, we will insert, as it will serve to show, in 
his own language, what was the state and condi- 
tion of the country upward of fifty years ago. Ifc 
begins as follows : 

270 Methodism in Tennessee. 

"'In the year 1798, the writer of this article 
was sent by Bishop Asbury as a missionary to 
this region of country, then called North-west- 
ern Territory, now Ohio State, to form a new 
circuit, and to plant the first principles of the 
gospel. In passing through the country, he 
found it almost in its native, rude, and unculti- 
vated state. The inhabitants were settled in small 
neighborhoods, and few and far between ; and little 
or no improvement about them. No sound of the 
everlasting gospel had as yet broken upon their 
ears, or gladdened their hearts ; no house of wor- 
ship was erected wherein Jehovah's name was 
recorded ; no joining the assembly of the saints, 
or those who keep the holy day; but the whole 
might, with strict propriety, be called " a land of 
darkness, and the shadow of death," where 

" The sound of the church-going bell 
These valleys and rocks never heard, 
Never sighed at the sound of a knell, 
Or smiled when a Sabbath appeared." 

" e The site on which Cincinnati now stands was 
nearly a dense and uncultivated forest. No im- 
provement was to be seen but Fort Washington — 
which was built on the brow of the hill, and ex- 
tended down to the margin of the river — around 
which was built a number of cabins, in which re- 
sided the first settlers of the place. This fortress 
was then under the command of General Harrison, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 271 

and was the great place of rendezvous for the fed- 
eral troops, which were sent by the Government 
to guard the frontiers, or to go forth to war with 
the Indians.' "* 

The numbers in Society, as returned this year, 
were: Cumberland, 206 whites, 34 colored; Green, 
322 whites, 18 colored — total, 528 whites, 52 col- 

The next Conference was appointed for Bethel 
Academy, Kentucky, 1799. 

As Bethel Academy is so frequently referred 
to in the Minutes, and was so often selected as 
the place of the meeting of the Conference, it is 
proper that a word should be said in reference to 
this the second institution of learning ever estab- 
lished by the Methodists in America. The follow- 
ing brief history of the origin, progress, and decline 
of the school is given by Mr. Burke : 

" In the county of Jessamine, situated on the 
cliffs, was Bethel Academy, built entirely by sub- 
scriptions raised on the circuits. One hundred 
acres of land was given by Mr. Lewis, as the site 
for the Academy. The project originated with 
Mr. Asbury, Francis Poythress, Isaac Hite, of 
Jefferson; Colonel Hinde, of Nelson; Willis Green, 
of Lincoln ; Bichard Masterson, of Fayette ; and 
Mr. Lewis, of Jessamine. A spacious building 

* Sketches of Western Methodism, pp. 169, 170. 

272 Methodism in Tennessee. 

was erected — I think, eighty by forty feet — three 
stories high. The design was to accommodate the 
students in the house with boarding, etc. The 
first and second stories were principally finished, 
and a spacious hall in the center. The building 
of this house rendered the pecuniary means of the 
preachers very uncertain, for they were continually 
employed in begging for Bethel. The people were 
very liberal, but they could not do more than they 
did. The country was new, and the unsettled 
state of the people, in consequence of the Indian 
wars and depredations, kept the country in a con- 
tinual state of agitation. The Legislature, at an 
early period, made a donation of six thousand 
acres of land to Bethel Academy The land was 
located in Christian county, south of Green River, 
and remained a long time unproductive ; and while 
I continued a trustee, till 1804, it remained rather 
a bill of expense than otherwise. In 1803, I was' 
appointed by the Western Conference to attend 
the Legislature, and obtain an act of incorpora- 
tion. I performed that duty, and Bethel was in- 
corporated, with all the powers and privileges of a 
literary institution. From that time I was re- 
moved to such a distance that mv connection with 
the Academy ceased. Rev Valentine Cook was 
the first who organized the academical department, 
and at first the prospect was flattering. A num- 
ber of students were in attendance ; but difficulties 

Methodism in Tennessee. 273 

occurred which it would be needless to mention, as 
all the parties concerned have gone to give an ac- 
count at a higher tribunal ; but such was the effect, 
that the school soon declined, and Brother Cook 
abandoned the project. 

" The Rev. John Metcalf, who had married and 
located, was next introduced, and kept a common 
school for some time. On his leaving the place 
vacant, Rev- Nathanael Harris moved, with his 
family, and occupied the building as a dwelling, 
and kept a school for the neighborhood. On his 
leaving the premises, it was soon in a dilapidated 
state. The land on which it was built fell into 
the hands of Mr. Lewis's heirs. The house was 
taken down, so that not one stone was left upon 
another, and the whole was transferred to Nich- 
olas ville and incorporated into a county academy, 
which is still in operation ; but the Methodist 
Church have no more interest in it than other 
citizens of Jessamine county " * 

The Methodists have ever been the friends of 
education. Mr. Wesley, who, under God, was the 
grand leader of " this sect ever spoken against," 
was highly educated. He was learned in the 
languages, especially in the Greek. Thomas Coke, 
whom he ordained and sent over to America as 
the first General Superintendent of the United 

* Sketches of Western Methodism, pp. 42, 43. 

274 Methodism in Tennessee., 

Societies, was a man of great learning : he was an 
LL.D. when titles meant something. Soon after 
the organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
in North America, the attention of the preachers 
and people was turned to the subject of education, 
and measures were early adopted to erect and 
endow schools of high grade for the benefit of the 
children of the Church, and, with little intermis- 
sion, the Church has never relaxed her energies 
in sustaining the noble work of training the youth 
of the land. It is true they have blundered in 
many instances. They have made unfortunate 
locations, and have attempted to accomplish too 
much in a brief space of time ; hence they have 
multiplied colleges and academies too rapidly, 
without endowing those already established be- 
yond a perad venture. Yet, with all their errors, 
the Methodists have done nobly, and are still 
bearing a praiseworthy part in the educational in- 
terest of the land. Bethel Academy, after having 
accomplished much for the times, tumbled into 
ruin ; but other colleges and academies have 
sprung up in various places, and are now sending 
out annually hundreds and thousands of young 
men and young women who are ornaments to the 
Church and a blessing to the nation. Methodists 
are filling high stations in the State, in the learned 
professions, in trade and in commerce, and the 
number of their educated sons and daughters is 

Methodism in Tennessee. 275 

increasing every year. As a matter of informa- 
tion to such of the readers of this work as have not 
the document at hand, we copy the following plan 
from the Journal of the General Conference of 1796 : 

Ques. 10. What directions shall we give con- 
cerning the education of youth ? 

Ans. Let the following address and regulations 
be printed in our Minutes, viz. : 


To the Public, and to the Members of our Society in particular : 
The first object we recommend is to form the 
minds of the youth, through divine aid, to wisdom 
and holiness ; instilling into their tender minds 
the principles of true religion, speculative, experi- 
mental, and practical, and training them in the 
ancient way, that they may be rational, scriptural 
Christians. For this purpose we recommend that 
not only the masters, but also our elders, deacons, 
and preachers, embrace every opportunity of in- 
structing the students in the great branches of the 
Christian religion. 

It is also our particular desire, that all who 
shall be educated in Methodist seminaries, be kept 
at the utmost distance as from vice in general, 
so in particular from softness and effeminacy of 

276 Methodism in Tennessee. 

The masters, therefore, should inflexibly insist 
on their rising early in the morning ; and Ave are 
convinced, by constant observation and experi- 
ence, that this is of vast importance both to body 
and mind. It is of admirable use, either for pre- 
serving a good or improving a bad constitution. 
It is of peculiar service in all nervous complaints, 
both in preventing and removing them. And by 
thus strengthening the various organs of the 
body, it enables the mind to put forth its utmost 

On the same principle the masters should pro- 
hibit play in the strongest terms ; and in this we 
have the two greatest writers on the subject that 
perhaps any age has produced — Mr. Locke and 
M. Rousseau — of our sentiments ; for though the 
latter was essentially mistaken in his religious 
system, yet his wisdom in other respects, and ex- 
tensive genius, are indisputably acknowledged. 
The employments which we would recommend 
for the recreation of the students, are such as are 
of the greatest public utility — agriculture and 
architecture — studies more especially necessary for 
a new-settled country ; and, of consequence, the 
instructing of youth in all the practical branches 
of those important arts will be an effectual 
method of rendering them more useful to their 
country Agreeably to this idea, the greatest 
statesman that perhaps ever shone in the annals 

Methodism in Tennessee. 277 

of history, Peter, the Russian emperor, who was 
deservedly styled the Great, disdained not to 
stoop to the employment of a ship-carpenter. Nor 
was it rare, during the purest times of the Roman 
republic, to see the conquerors of nations and de- 
liverers of their country return with all simplicity 
and cheerfulness to the exercise of the plovv. 
In conformity to this sentiment, one of the com- 
pletest poetic pieces of antiquity (the Georgics of 
Virgil) is written on the subject of husbandry ; 
by the perusal of which, and submission to the 
above regulations, the students may delightfully 
unite the theory and the practice together. We 
say delightfully, for we are far from wishing that 
these employments should be turned into drudgery 
or slavery, but into pleasing recreations for the 
mind and body 

In teaching the languages, care should be taken 
to read those authors, and those only, who join 
together the purity, the strength, and the elegance 
of their several tongues. And the utmost caution 
should be used that nothing immodest should be 
found in any of their books. 

But this is not all. We should take care that 
the books be not only inoffensive, but useful; 
that they contain as much strong sense and as 
much genuine morality as possible. As far, there- 
fore, as is consistent with the foregoing observa- 
tions, a choice and universal library should be 

278 Methodism in Tennessee. 

provided for the use of the students, according to 
their finances ; and on this plan we trust that our 
seminaries of learning will, in time, send forth 
men who will be blessings to their country in 
every laudable office and employment of life, 
thereby uniting the two greatest ornaments of in- 
telligent beings, which are too often separated — 
deep learning and genuine religion. 

The rules and regulations with which you are 
here presented have been weighed and digested in 
our Conferences, but we also submit them to your 
judgment : 


1. The students shall rise at five o'clock in the 
morning, summer and winter, at the ringing of a 

2. All the students shall assemble together at 
six o'clock, for public prayer, except in cases of 
sickness ; and on any omission, shall be responsible 
to the master. 

3. From morning prayer till seven, they shall 
be allowed to recreate themselves as is hereafter 

4. At seven they shall breakfast. 

5. From eight till twelve, they are to be closely 
kept to their respective studies. 

6. From twelve to three, they are to employ 

Methodism in Tennessee. 279 

themselves in recreation and dining — dinner to be 
ready at one o'clock. 

7. From three till six, they are again to be kept 
closely to their studies. 

8. At six they shall snp. 

9. At seven there shall be public prayer. 

10. From evening prayer till bed-time, they 
shall be allowed recreation. 

11. They shall all be in bed at nine o'clock, 
without fail. 

12. Their recreations shall be gardening, walk- 
ing, riding, and bathing, without doors ; and the 
carpenter's, joiner's, cabinet-maker's, or turners 
business, within doors. 

13. A large plot of land shall be appropriated 
for a garden, and a person skilled in gardening be 
appointed to overlook the students when employed 
in that recreation. 

14. A convenient bath shall be made for bath- 

15. A master, or some proper person by him 
appointed, shall be always present at the time 
of bathing. Only one shall bathe at a time; 
and no one shall remain in the water above a 

16. No student shall be allowed to bathe in the 

17 A taberna lignaria (place for working in 
wood) shall be provided on the premises, with 

280 Methodism in Tennessee. 

all proper instruments and materials, and a skillful 
person be employed to overlook the students at 
this recreation. 

18. The students shall be indulged with noth- 
ing which the world calls play. Let this rule be 
observed with the strictest nicety ; for those 
who play w T hen they are young, will play when 
they are old. 

19. Each student shall have a bed to himself, 
wherever he boards. 

20. The students shall lie on mattresses, not on 
feather-beds, because we believe the mattresses to 
be more healthy 

21. The masters shall strictly examine, from 
time to time, whether those who board the stu- 
dents (if they board out of the seminary) comply 
with these rules as far as they concern them. 

22. A skillful physician shall be engaged to 
attend the students on every emergency, that the 
parents may be fully assured that proper care shall 
be taken of the health of their children. 

23. The Bishops shall examine, by themselves 
or their delegates, into the progress of all the 
students in learning, every half year, or oftener, 
if possible. 

24. The elders, deacons, and preachers, as often 
as they visit the seminaries respectively, shall ex- 
amine the students concerning their knowledge of 
God and religion. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 281 

25. The students shall be divided into proper 
classes for that purpose. 

26. A pupil who has a total incapacity to attain 
learning, shall, after sufficient trial, be returned to 
his parents. 

27 If a student be convicted of any open sin, 
he shall, for the first offense, be reproved in 
private ; for the second offense, he shall be re- 
proved in public ; and for the third offense, he 
shall be punished at the discretion of the master. 

28. Idleness, or any other fault, may be pun- 
ished with confinement, according to the discretion 
of the master. 

29. A convenient room shall be set apart as a 
place of confinement. 

282 Methodism in Tennessee. 


Change in constituency of the Conferences — Six Annual 
Conferences — Western Conference — William Lambuth — 
Success of Mr. Pas-e on the Cumberland Circuit — Alex- 
ander Rascoe — J. R. Lambuth: his son — Mr. Burke's 
review of the work — Rev. Colonel Green Hill and his 
family — Dr. Mc Anally 's remarks. 

Up to 1796, the yearly Conferences met at 
various places, to suit the convenience of the 
preachers. At the General Conference of this 
year, (1799,) the following note was made in the 
Journal : 

" For several years the Annual Conferences 
were very small, consisting only of the preach- 
ers of a single District, or of two or three very 
small ones. This was attended with many in- 
conveniences : 

(i l. There were but few of the senior preachers, 
whose years and experience had matured their 
judgments, who could be present at any one Con- 

"2. The Conferences wanted that dignity which 
every religious synod should possess, and which 
always accompanies a large assembly of gospel 

Methodism in Tennessee. 283 

"3. The itinerant plan was exceedingly cramped, 
from the difficulty of removing preachers from one 
District to another. All these inconveniences 
will, we trust, be removed on the present plan : 
and at the same time, the Conferences are so 
arranged that all the members respectively mav 
attend with little difficulty " 

According to this plan, the whole work was 
divided into six Annual Conferences, namely. Xew 
England, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Virginia. South 
Carolina, and the Western Conference. The 
Bishops in the interim had the right to form new 
Conferences. The General Conference was at this 
period made up of all the Elders who were able to 
attend, the Delegated General Conference having- 
not as yet been provided for. 

The Western Conference embraced, bv this 
arrangement, Kentucky and Tennessee, and its 
sessions this year were held at Bethel Academv, 
May 1, 1799. There was no Conference in the 
Holston country this year, but the plan of the 
District was changed. According to the new 
arrangement, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, East 
Tennessee, and South-western Virginia were all 
included in the same District, and Francis Poy- 
thress was the Presiding Elder. John Page was 
appointed to the Cumberland Circuit, and William 
Lambuth to Green. Mr. Page was very success- 
nil on his circuit ; indeed, it may be properly said 

284 Methodism in Tennessee. 

that the "great revival" of 1800 had its bud- 
dings this year, and some of the first indications 
were witnessed in Tennessee, under the ministry 
of Mr. Page and others. Alexander Raseoe, who 
afterward became a local preacher, was converted 
this year. Mr. Rascoe lived to an advanced ase, 
and continued steadfast in the faith, and died in 
peace with God. He was a sweet-spirited Chris- 
tian, and in his declinine; years seemed to mature 
in all the graces of the Holy Spirit. The author 
preached his funeral - sermon at Goodlettsville, 
Tennessee, some years since. The text was 
appropriate : " Well done, good and faithful ser- 
vant," etc. 

Mr. Lambuth, who traveled the Green Circuit 
this year, was appointed the next year to the 
Cumberland Circuit, and Mr. Page was sent, the 
Minutes say, to Holston, Russell, and New River. 
Mr. Page says, in a letter to the author, written 
in 1843. that his appointment was New River, 
Holston, and Clinch. The Minutes are probably 
correct, as Mr. Page wrote from memory Mr. 
Page's memory seems to have been at fault in 
another particular- He says that he was changed 
from his field of labor soon after the Conference, 
and sent back to the Cumberland Circuit in 1799, 
and that the change was made by Bishops Asbury 
and Whatcoat. The Minutes say that it was in 
1800. This must be correct, for Mr. Whatcoat 

Methodism in Tennessee. 285 

was not elected Bishop till May, 1800. It would 
appear, then, that Mr. Page was sent back to the 
Cumberland Circuit, and either superseded Mr. 
Lambuth, or traveled with him. After this year, 
Mr. Lambuth's name disappears from the Min- 
utes : the presumption is that he located, as that 
was very common in those early times, espe- 
cially when the preachers married. Mr. Lambuth 
settled in Sumner county, where he brought up a 
family His son, John R. Lambuth, entered the 
ministry at an early age, and became a prominent 
and useful minister. He labored in Alabama and 
Mississippi for many years, and died only a short 
time since. 

One of his sons, the Rev J. W Lambuth, has 
been a missionary in China for many years, under 
the direction of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
South; and he had another son a minister of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in Mississippi. 
Thus the house of Levi continues to furnish priests 
for the altar. 

Since writing the above, the following statement 
has been received from Dr. William W Lambuth, 
of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, a grandson of Mr. 
Lambuth, which is inserted with pleasure : 

" I have obtained the following facts from my 
father, William Lambuth, with regard to the Rev. 
William Lambuth, my grandfather. He was born 
in Hanover county, Virginia, near Hanover Court- 

286 Methodism in Tennessee. 

house, in the year 1765. He was licensed to 
preach at the age of twenty-one years, and became 
a member of the Baltimore Conference very soon 
thereafter. He traveled in the bounds of that 
Conference for several years. He was ordained 
deacon by Bishop Coke, and received elders' or- 
ders at the hands of Bishop Asbury 

" From the Baltimore Conference he was sent 
to the wilderness of Tennessee, in the year 179S, 
as a missionary After laboring some three years 
in this new field, as an itinerant, he was happily 
married to Elizabeth Greenhaw, and located in 
Smith county, Tennessee, near Hartsville, where 
he lived for some years, during which time he 
was a neighbor to the Rev. John McGee, by 
whom he was married ; at the expiration of 
which time he removed to Sumner county, Ten- 
nessee, and settled within one mile of Fountain 
Head, where he lived the remainder of his life. 
He died in the year 1837 As a local preacher, 
during his residence in Sumner county, he was 
abundant in labors, and was known extensively as 
' Old Father Lambuth, the comb-maker.' Manu- 
facturing combs was his principal employment. 
His death was peaceful ; he passed away as one 
falling asleep. He rests in Fountain Head Ceme- 
tery, with his wife, where sleep the Revs. R. Cope 
and William Woodall, and others. His eldest 
son, the Rev John R. Lambuth, labored for inanv 

Methodism in Tennessee. 287 

years as a member of the Mississippi Conference, 
and died in peace in the year 1863. 

" I regret that my grandfather's diary, with his 
parchments and other papers which were in the 
possession of my father, were lost to us. having 
been destroyed at the time my father's house was 
burned by outlaws, during the war, in the State 
of Arkansas, where my father then resided.*' 

The close of this year may be called a period 
in the history of American Methodism. The new 
century, or 1800, began a new era, and from this 
date the Church went forward with new vigor, 
and with certain prospect of great success. 

When Mr. Burke, in his Autobiography, comes 
to this date— the close of 1799 — he takes a brief 
review of the past, and pens the following inter- 
esting items : 

" I consider this the proper place to give a de- 
scription of the men and means employed in the 
establishment and progress of Methodism in this 
Western country, and the difficulties and hard- 
ships encountered in the work. As early as the 
year 1785, the first traveling preachers visited 
the Holston country ; their names were Richard 
Swift and Michael Gilbert. The country at this 
time was new and thinly settled. They met 
with many privations and sufferings, and made 
but little progress. The most of the country 
through which they traveled was very moun- 

288 Methodism in Tennessee. 

tainous and rough, and "the people ignorant and 
uncultivated, and the greater part a frontier ex- 
posed to Indian depredations. They were fol- 
lowed by Mark Whittaker and Mark Moore, who 
were zealous, plain, old-fashioned Methodist preach- 
ers, and calculated to make an impression. Their 
labors were successful, and they were instrumen- 
tal in raising up many societies. Mark Whittaker 
in particular was a strong man, and maintained 
Methodist doctrine in opposition to Calvinism, 
which was the prevailing doctrine of that time. 
He laid a good foundation for his successors, and 
was followed by Jeremiah Matson and Thomas 
Ware, and after them in succession Joseph Dod- 
dridge. Jeremiah Able, John Tunnell, John Bald- 
win, Charles Hardy, John McGee, and John 
W r est. Under God these men planted the standard 
of the cross in the frontier settlements of the 
French Broad, and numerous societies were raised 
up; so that in 1791, the societies numbered up- 
ward of one thousand. About this time I arrived 
in the Hols ton country These fathers of Meth- 
odism, most of whom have gone to their reward, 
will be long had in grateful remembrance. But 
two of them are lin^erinsr on the shores of mor- 
tality — Charles Hardy and John West. The 
most of them died in connection with the Church, 
and are now reaping the reward of their labors 
and sufferings. Joseph Doddridge received orders 

Methodism in Tennessee. 289 

in the Episcopal Church of England, and settled 
in the Monongahela country, and there died. 
Jeremiah Able joined the Presbyterians, and 
lived and died in the Green River country, not 
far from Greensburg, Greene county, Kentucky 

" The pioneers of Methodism in that part of 
Western Virginia and the Western Territory suf- 
fered many privations, and underwent much toil 
and labor, preaching in forts and cabins, sleeping 
on straw, bear and buffalo skins, living on bear 
meat, venison, and wild turkeys, traveling over 
mountains and through solitary valleys, and, some- 
times, lying on the cold ground ; receiving but 
a scanty support, barely enough to keep soul and 
body together, with coarse home-made apparel ; 
but the best of all was, their labors were owned 
and blessed of God, and they were like a band 
of brothers, having one purpose and end in view 
— the glory of God and the salvation of im- 
mortal souls. When the preachers met from 
their different and distant fields of labor, they had 
a feast of love and friendship ; and when they 
parted, they wept and embraced each other as 
brothers beloved. Such was the spirit of primitive 
Methodist preachers. 

" There were but few local preachers at that 

time in that part of the Western country, and 

they were like angels' visits, few and far between 

— one local preacher on West New River Circuit, 

vol. t. — 13 

290 Methodism in Tennessee. 

a Brother Morgan, whose labors were confined 
principally to a small circle ; but one on Holston, 
old Father Ragen, in the Rich Valley, not far 
from the salt-works. He was a man much re- 
spected, and, in some degree, useful in his neigh- 
borhood, but circumscribed in his operations as a 
preacher. At an early time, Brother Benjamin 
Vanpelt, a local preacher of considerable talents 
and usefulness, moved from Alexandria, Virginia, 
and settled on Lick Creek, Greene county, West- 
ern Territory He labored extensively, was very 
useful, and was made an instrument, under God, 
of doing much good. Several societies were 
formed by his ministry, and he may be considered 
one of the fathers of the Church. His memory 
will be long had in remembrance by the people 
of the French Broad country He was the old 
and particular friend of Bishop Asbury, and one 
of the first meeting-houses built in that country 
was Vanpelt's Meeting-house. I have been in 
company with the Bishop at his house, and heard 
him preach in the meeting-house as early as 
1792. Brother Stilwell, another local preacher 
from Virginia, settled in the same neighborhood 
and united with Brother Vanpelt, and they labored 
harmoniously in the good work. After the con- 
clusion of the Indian war, in the spring of 1795, 
there was a great influx by emigration. Some 
of the traveling preachers married and settled in 

Methodism in Tennessee. 291 

the country James O'Connor settled on Watauga, 
Mark Whittaker near Jonesboro, Stephen Brooks 
in Greene county, and many others, both preachers 
and members, settled in different sections, and 
some new preachers were raised up, and the work 
was enlarged; new circuits were formed, and 
some useful and talented young men entered into 
the traveling connection. Among the first was 
Francis Acuff, of precious memory, who, at an 
early period, fell a victim to disease, and died 
in the triumphs of faith on the Danville Circuit, 
Kentucky Nathanael Massie, David Young, Hen- 
ager, and Porter, in succession, were raised up in 
that section of country, whose labors and useful- 
ness are known among the thousands of Israel; 
and the few who remain to witness the spread 
and triumph of the Redeemer's kingdom are ready 
to exclaim, ' The Lord hath done great things for 
us, whereof we are glad.' " * 

It has been said that this was the year when 
the "great revival" began. In proof of this, we 
copy a very interesting letter from the Rev John 
McGee to the Rev Thomas L. Douglass, which 
was published in the fourth volume of the Meth- 
odist Magazine : 

Dear Sir :- — In compliance with your request, 
I have endeavored to recollect some of the most 

* Sketches of "Western Methodism, pp. 57-60. 

292 Methodism in Tennessee. 

noted circumstances which occurred at the com- 
mencement of the work of God in the States of 
Kentucky and Tennessee, and which came under 
my observation in 1799 and the two following 

I suppose I am one of the two brothers referred 
to in Theophilus Arminius's account of the work 
of God in the Western country My brother Wil- 
liam McGee is fallen asleep in the bosom of his 
beloved Master. We were much attached to each 
other from our infancy, but much more so when we 
both experienced the uniting love of Jesus Christ. 
I was the oldest, and, by the mercy and grace of 
God, sought and experienced religion first. With 
great anxiety of mind, he heard me preach the 
unsearchable riches of Christ, before he felt or en- 
joyed peace with God. After he obtained religion, 
he thought proper to receive holy orders in the 
Presbyterian Church ; and, after preaching some 
time in North Carolina and in the Holston country, 
he came to Cumberland, (now West Tennessee,) 
about the year 1796 or 1797, and settled in a con- 
gregation in Sumner county, about the year 1798. 
Several reasons induced me to remove, with mv 
family, from North Carolina to the Western coun- 
try, and in the year 1798 settled in Sumner (now 
Smith) county The difference of doctrines pro- 
fessed by the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches 
was not sufficient to dissolve those ties of love 

Methodism in Tennessee. 293 

and affection which we both felt. We loved, and 
prayed, and preached together; and God was 
pleased to own and bless us and our labors. In 
the year 1799, we agreed to make a tour through 
the Barrens, toward Ohio, and concluded to attend 
a sacramental solemnity in the Rev Mr. McGready's 
congregation, on Red River, in our way When 
we came there, I was introduced by my brother, 
and received an invitation to address the congre- 
gation from the pulpit, and I know not that ever 
God favored me with more light and liberty than 
he did each day, while I endeavored to convince 
the people they were sinners, and urged the ne- 
cessity of repentance, and of a change from nature 
to grace, and held up to their view the greatness, 
freeness, and fullness of salvation, which was in 
Christ Jesus, for lost, guilty, condemned sinners. 
My brother and the Rev Mr. Hodge preached 
with much animation and liberty The people felt 
the force of truth, and tears ran down their cheeks, 
but all was silent until Monday, the last day of 
the feast. Mr. Hodge gave a useful discourse ; 
an intermission was given, and I was appointed to 
preach. While Mr. Hodge was preaching, a woman 
in the east end of the house got an uncommon 
blessing, broke through order, and shouted for some 
time, and then sat down in silence. At the close 
of the sermon, Messrs. Hodge, McGready, and 
Rankin went out of the house : my brother and 

294 Methodism in Tennessee. 

myself sat still. The people seemed to have no 
disposition to leave their seats. My brother felt 
snch a power come on him, that he quit his seat 
and sat down on the floor of the pulpit, (I suppose, 
not knowing what he did.) A power which caused 
me to tremble was upon me. There was a solemn 
weeping all over the house. Having a wish to 
preach, I strove against my feelings. At length 
I rose up and told the people I was appointed to 
preach, but there was a greater than I preaching, 
and exhorted them to let the Lord God omnipotent 
reign in their hearts, and to submit to him, and 
their souls should live. Many broke silence : the 
woman in the east end of the house shouted tre- 
mendously I left the pulpit to go to her, and as 
I went along through the people, it was suggested 
to me : " You know these people are much for 
order — they will not bear this confusion. Go back, 
and be quiet." I turned to go back, and was near 
falling. The power of God was strong upon me ; 
I turned again, and, losing sight of the fear of 
man, I went through the house shouting and ex- 
horting with all possible ecstasy and energy, and 
the floor was soon covered with the slain. Their 
screams for mercy pierced the heavens, and mercy 
came down. Some found forgiveness, and many 
went away from that meeting feeling unutterable 
agonies of soul for redemption in the blood of 
Jesus. This was the beginning of that glorious 

Methodism in Tennessee. 295 

revival of religion in this country which was so 
great a blessing to thousands ; and from this meet- 
ing camp-meetings took their rise. One man, for 
the want of horses for all his family to ride and 
attend the meeting, fixed up his wagon, in which 
he took them and his provisions, and lived on the 
ground throughout the meeting. He had left his 
worldly cares behind him, and had nothing to do 
but attend on divine service. 

The next popular meeting was on Muddy River, 
and this was a camp-meeting: a number of wagons 
loaded with people came together, and camped on 
the ground; and the Lord was present, and ap- 
proved of their zeal by sealing a pardon to about 
forty souls. The next camp-meeting was on the 
Ridge, where there was an increase of people, and 
carriages of different descriptions, and a great many 
preachers of the Presbyterian and Methodist orders, 
and some of the Baptist, but the latter were gene- 
rally opposed to the work. Preaching commenced, 
and the people prayed, and the power of God at- 
tended. There was a great cry for mercy The 
nights were truly awful: the camp-ground was well 
illuminated ; the people were differently exercised 
all over the ground — some exhorting, some shout- 
ing, some praying, and some crying for mercy, 
while others lay as dead men on the ground. 
Some of the spiritually-wounded fled to the woods, 
and their groans could be heard all through the 

296 Methodism in Tennessee. 

surrounding groves, as the groans of dying men. 
From thence many came into the camp, rejoicing 
and praising God for having found redemption in 
the blood of the Lamb. At this meeting it was 
computed that one hundred souls were converted 
from nature to grace. But perhaps the greatest 
meeting we ever witnessed in this country took 
place shortly after, on Desha's Creek, near Cum- 
berland River. Many thousands of people attended. 
The mighty power and mercy of God were mani- 
fested. The people fell before the word, like corn 
before a storm of wind, and many rose from the 
dust with divine glory shining in their counte- 
nances, and gave glory to God in such strains as 
made the hearts of stubborn sinners tc tremble; 
and, after the first gust of praise, they would 
break forth in volleys of exhortation. Amongst 
these were many small, home-bred boys, who 
spoke with the tongue, wisdom, and eloquence of 
the learned ; and truly they were learned, for they 
were all taught of God, who had taken their feet 
out of the mire and clay, and put a new song in 
their mouths. Although there were converts of 
different ages under this work, it was remarkable 
they were generally the children of praying par- 
ents. Here John A. Granade, the Western poet, 
who composed the Pilgrim's songs — after being 
many months in almost entire desperation, till he 
was worn down, and appeared like a walking 

Methodism in Tennessee. 297 

skeleton — found pardon and mercy from God, and 
began to preach a risen Jesus. Some of the 
Pharisees cried disorder and confusion, but in dis- 
orderly assemblies there are generally dislocated 
and broken bones, and bruised flesh; but here the 
women laid their sleeping children at the roots of 
the trees, while hundreds, of all ages and colors, 
were stretched on the ground in the agonies of 
conviction, and as dead men, while thousands, day 
and night, were crow r ding round them, and passing 
to and fro, yet there was nobody hurt;* which 
shows that the people were perfectly in their 
senses. And on this chaos of apparent confusion, 
God said, Let there be light, and there w r as light ! 
and many emerged out of darkness into it. We 
have hardly ever had a camp-meeting since, with- 
out his presence and power to convert souls. Glory 
to God and the Lamb, for ever and ever ! 

Yours respectfully, John McGee. 

Of the Rev John McGee, the author of the 
foregoing letter, much might be written, as he was 
a great and good man, and an active worker in the 
revival in the West. The author remembers hav- 
ing once seen him, when he was far advanced in 

* There was a man at the Ridge meeting who got mad, 
cursed the people, and said he would go home ; but before 
he got out of sight of the camp-ground, a tree fell on him, 
and he was carried home dead. 

298 Methodism in Tennessee, 

life. He was then full of joy, and ripe for his 
future home. 

The Rev Thomas Joyner, of the Memphis Con- 
ference, and who married Mr. McGee's daughter, 
has furnished the following interesting items : 

" The Rev- John McGee was born and edu- 
cated in Guilford county, North Carolina. His 
parents were Presbyterians, and of course he was 
brought up in the faith and order of that Church. 
His father was an officer in the Revolutionary 
struggle for independence ; and although young 
McGee w T as scarcely capable of bearing arms, yet 
he preferred the exposures and perils of the camp 
to the persecutions and oppressions of the Tories, 
and entered the service. At the close of the war, 
he returned home, was dutiful to his parents, and 
affectionate to his brothers and sisters. 

" By the will of a deceased uncle, his brother 
Andrew McGee and himself inherited a hand- 
some legacy, which they vested in a ship, and 
sailed upon the high seas until the vessel was 
wrecked and lost, and they barely escaped. He 
w r ent home, and Andrew married and settled in 
Maryland. Soon after, when on a visit to his 
brother, he became acquainted with the people 
called Methodists, and heard them preach. Their 
matter and manner were new to him. The truth, 
as presented by them, arrested his attention, awak- 
ened his conscience, and opened his heart to re- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 299 

ceive with meekness the ingrafted word. Being 
thus convinced of sin, he by hearty repentance 
sought and found justification by faith, and the 
regeneration of his nature by the Holy Ghost, 
The change with him was sensible and satisfac- 
tory, and he at once joined the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church. Soon he received a divine im- 
pression that a dispensation of the gospel was 
committed to him, and he was not disobedient to 
the heavenly calling, for in due time he was au- 
thorized to exercise his gifts as an exhorter, and 
then as a preacher. When he returned to his 
relatives and acquaintances, they were greatly 
astonished at the change wrought in him, and some 
were mortified that he had become a Methodist. 
He joined the Conference, and traveled several 
years very acceptably and usefully About 1791, 
he was happily married to Miss Martha Johnson, 
daughter of the late Colonel William Johnson, of 
South Carolina, who was indeed a helpmate to 
him, in every sense of the word. In 1798, they 
emigrated to Tennessee, and settled in Sumner 
(now Smith) county, near Dixon's Springs, where 
he lived and closed his pilgrimage. 

" Mr. McGee was below the medium size, but 
formed for activity and durability ; was a model 
of industry, energy, and economy ; provided boun- 
tifully for his own household, sustained the insti- 
tutions of the Church, and his hand was ever open 

300 Methodism in Tennessee. 

to the calls of charity He was a good citizen — 
loyal to the Government, and obedient to the 
powers that be — and an ardent admirer of the 
then democratic institutions of the country 

" Mr. McGee possessed a strong and vigorous 
intellect, clear perception, sound, discriminating- 
judgment, and a mind well stored with varied, 
useful knowledge ; was thoroughly versed in the 
Scriptures, understood the doctrines and usages 
of his Church, and was well prepared to explain 
and defend them. His manner in the pulpit was 
mild, plain, and methodical : he never attempted 
embellishment, but, when fired bv the divinity of 
his theme, frequently rose to the sublime, and 
carried his hearers with him to the mount to take 
a view of the heavenly Canaan, and his applica- 
tions and exhortations were often overwhelming 
to the unconverted. 

" I am not apprised that he belonged to the 
Conference, except to fill the unexpired term of 
the lamented Blackmail upon the District, but 
was emphatically a local traveling preacher, labor- 
ing through the week, and preaching on the Sab- 

" His younger brother, the Rev William McGee, 
had received orders in the Presbyterian Church. 
He preceded him to Tennessee, and was pastor of 
a congregation in Sumner county They were 
much attached in feeling and affection, and in- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 301 

spired with zeal for their Master's cause. They 
took a ministerial tour into Kentucky, and at- 
tended several meetings, where the word was at- 
tended with marvelous displays of divine power, 
and scores were brought to a knowledge of the 
truth, and into the fold of Christ. They then 
attended a meeting on the Ridge, and another on 
Desha's Creek, both in Sumner county, Tennes- 
see. The people left home and the cares of the 
world, and assembled by every mode of convey- 
ance, chiefly in wagons, taking their provisions 
with them, and remained on the ground for several 
days and nights together. The interest increased, 
and the work was almost universal. Those who 
did not yield, had to fly : God was there to kill 
and make alive, and hundreds were brought from 
darkness to light. These servants of God and of 
the Church were some of the honored instruments 
in commencing the great revival of religion in 
1799, which continued two or three years ; and 
this was the origin of the feast of tabernacles, (the 
modern camp-meetings,) which proved such a suc- 
cessful power in the Church ; and may they yet 
be revived again in all their former usefulness ! 

"In 1835, a tumor appeared on his arm, and 
continued to grow until an operation was per- 
formed, and- it was taken out by Dr. R. Thomp- 
son, assisted by other physicians ; but, instead of 
healing, a fungus growth ensued, until it reached 

302 Methodism in Tennessee. 

nearly round his arm. A consultation of physi- 
cians was called, and amputation effected ; but the 
shock was too great for his enfeebled constitution: 
he survived only a day or two, when, on the 16th 
day of June, 1836, in the seventy-fifth vear of his 
age, full of faith and hope, he was gathered into 
the garner, as a shock of ripe corn its 

" Mrs. McGee, and other members of the family, 
have followed. Only two remain — Mrs. Martha 
Douglass, relict of the late Colonel Birchett Doug- 
lass, and Mrs. Elizabeth Jovner." 

Amona; the early emigrants to Middle Tennes- 
see who added weight and respectability to the 
Methodist Church, was the Rev and Hon. Green 
Hill. He was a native of North Carolina, was the 
son of Green and Grace Hill, and was born in Old 
Bute county, November 3, 1741. He filled sev- 
eral offices of trust and honor in his native State. 
He was a member of the Provincial Assembly or 
Congress which met at Newbern, August 25, 1774. 
This meeting, says Wheeler, " was not a conflict 
of arms or force, but it was the first act of that 
great drama in which battles and blood formed 
only subordinate parts. It was the first assem- 
bly of the people of North Carolina, in a repre- 
sentative character, in opposition to the Royal 

Mr. Hill was again in the Provincial Congress 

Methodism in Tennessee. 303 

which met at Halifax on the 4th of April, 1776 — 
the fourth meeting of the people, in a representa- 
tive capacity, opposed to the Royal Government 
of North Carolina. 

Measures were taken at this Congress for re- 
sisting the Royal Government, and troops were 
raised and officers appointed, not only for the 
State at large, but for each county Mr. Hill was 
appointed Second Major. 

Mr. Hill was assigned to an important trust in 
the financial department of the new Government. 
The author has now before him scrip of North 
Carolina currency, issued by order of the Con- 
gress, of which the following is a copy : 


No. Six Dollars. 

By Authority of Congress, 

at Halifax, April 2, 1776. 

G. Hill. 

He was afterward promoted to a colonelcy, and 
was known all his life long as Colonel Hill. 

At what time Colonel Hill was converted, and 
became a Methodist, we have no reliable informa- 
tion. As early as 1780, mention is made of him 
by Jesse Lee, in his Journal, who states that in 
July, 1780, on his way to the army, he spent a 
night at Mr. Green Hill's, where he was kindly 
treated. Mr. Lee says, that while the army was 

304 Methodism in Tennessee. 

in camp, in one of its retreats through North 
Carolina, Mr. Green Hill (September 24, 1780) 
visited it, and preached on " Quench not the 

Jesse Lee says again, that " the Conference for 
the Southern division of the work, for the year, 
was held at the residence of the Rev. Green Hill, 
in North Carolina. This was the first Conference 
held in this State. It commenced on Wednesday, 
April 20, 1785, and closed on the following Fri- 
day About twenty preachers were present, and 
their business was dispatched in harmony and 

Mr. Hill removed to Tennessee in 1799, and 
settled in Williamson county He visited Ten- 
nessee in 1796, and returned to North Carolina. 
The following extracts we copy from his Jour- 
nal : 

" Trip from North Carolina to Tennessee com- 
menced May, 1796. 

"Thursday, June 2. — In the afternoon we arrived 
at Nelson's Meeting-house, on Holston River. Here 
Ave found Brothers Brown and Seawell. I preached 
on Sunday, and went on Tuesday to hear Brother 
Page, at Brother Caskey's, on the waters of Noli- 
chucky A warm preacher, and a large and lively 

"Sunday, June 19. — We remained at Mr. James 
Douglass's, (eight miles from Bledsoe's Lick.) 

Methodism in Tennessee. 305 

"Tuesday, June 21. — I preached at Mr. Thomas 
Edward's, (Mark xvi. 15, 16,) to very attentive 


"Wednesday, June 22. — Went to Mr. Collier's, 
who lives at the Irish Station, on Cumberland 
Biver, nine miles above Nashville. We remained 
here till Sunday, (26th,) and went to Nashville to 
meeting, and heard Brother Duzan. Then I 
preached from Col. i. 27, 28. Some people went 
away, but the greater part quietly attended, and 
the word appeared to be attended with power. 
On Sunday evening we went home with old Mr. 
Ridley, who kindly entertained us. 

"Wednesday, June 29. — We came to Brother 
Richard Strother's, (three miles from Nashville,) 
an excellent farmer, and very kind family, and 
stayed (Thursday, 30th) to meeting. An appoint- 
ment at the preaching-house at this place for cir- 
cuit preaching. I. preached to a small congrega- 
tion of pious Methodists, from Matt, xxv 10 
' They that were ready went in with him to the 
marriage, and the door was shut.' After preach- 
ing, we retired to Brother Strother's, and spent the 
evening with Brother Duzan. 

"Sunday, July 3. — I attended an appointment 
on the bank of the Cumberland River, at Neely's 
Lick, at which time and place Mr. Dorrard had 
an appointment previously made, though not know T n 
to me, or those that appointed for me. I first 

306 Methodism in Tennessee. 

preached, (from Matt. vii. 21,) and then he 
preached, and appeared friendly, 

"Saturday, July 9. — We went to quarterly-meet- 
ing, at Parker's, (seven miles,) and met Brother 
Buxton and Brother Duzan, pastors. 

"Sunday, July 10. — Attended the sacrament, and 
had a very comfortable time. After sacrament, I 
preached to a numerous congregation. They were 
discomposed by a shower of rain. After the rain 
was over, Brother Buxton preached from Isa. i. 
19 ; and after some time, the people got a little 
composed, and the meeting closed with solem- 

"Saturday, July 16. — Set out to Robertson 
Court, crossed the Ridge, and lodged at a friend's 
house of the name of Ramsey Twenty-five miles. 

"Sunday, July 17 — I went five miles, and 
preached at old Mr. Citt's, to a careless people, 
chiefly, but hope a few sincere. Heb. ii. 3. 

"Thursday, July 21. — We returned to Brother 
Ramsey's, and heard Brother Duzan, and lodged 
with him. 

"Saturday, July 23. — We set out down the 
Ridge, between the river and Cumberland, to 
Clarksville, and lodged at Benjamin Rodgers's. 
Twenty miles. 

"Sunday, July 24. — Went to Clarksville, (five 
miles,) and preached, from Mark i. 15, to an at- 
tentive people. Here I met with Brother Stephen- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 307 

son, who also preached : he is a Republican Meth- 
odist, so called. We lodged together at Robert 
Dunning's, and conversed freely 

"Monday, July 25. — We went down to Palmyra, 
a new town, on the south side of Cumberland, 
twelve miles below Clarksville. Here we were 
kindly received by Mrs. Brown, Dr. Brown's lady, 
the chief gent of this place, he being at court. 
She is a religious woman, of the Baptist Church. 
Notice being given of our arrival, the inhabitants 
gathered at Mr. Brown's, and I preached from 

1 Peter iii. 12. I had much liberty in speaking. 
The people wore attentive, and flexible as melted 
wax. I hope good was done. 

"Wednesday, July 27. — We left Clarksville, and 
traveled about twelve miles, and lodged with 
Jonathan Stephenson. 

"Thursday, July 28. — We then went up to Mr. 
Winter's, (thirteen miles,) and I preached from 

2 John ii. 28, 29, to an attentive congregation. 
Three Baptist and one Presbyterian preacher pres- 
ent, who all spoke in turn, after I had preached, 
but without controversy, and parted very affec- 
tionately We came on to our friend Ramsey's, 
(five miles,) and lodged there. 

"Friday, July 29. — We crossed the Ridge, and 
in the evening reached Brother Strother's, twenty- 
five miles from Ramsey's. Here we rested till 
♦Sunday, the 31st. I went to Nashville to attend 

308 Methodism in Tennessee. 

my appointment, and preached from the first 
Psalm. The people were attentive. After preach- 
ing, I went home with General Robertson, who 
lives about five miles below Nashville, on Rich- 
land Creek, on the south side of Cumberland. 

" Tuesday , August 2. — I went to Nashville and 
crossed the river, and came up to Mr. Collier's, 
(nine miles,) and remained in the neighborhood 
till Sunday 

"Sunday, August 7. — We went to my appoint- 
ment at Mr. Paine's, and I preached from Col. ii. 
4, 5. The people were attentive, and I had lib- 
erty in speaking. After meeting, we returned to 
Mr. Collier's. 

"Monday, August 8. — We left Mr. Collier's, and 
called at Mr. Elisha Rives's, and baptized his three 
children — Harriet, Elizabeth, and Polly — and one 
black child ; after which we came to Colonel 
Douglass's. Here we saw the distinguished 
Chickasaw chief, Pyamingo, and five other chiefs, 
on their way to Knoxville, and thence to Con- 
gress. Here we were kindly entertained, but no 
family worship. 

"Friday, August 12. — I remained at Mr. Doug- 
lass's, and spent the day in reading and retire- 
ment, and enjoyed calmness of mind. 

"Sunday, August 14. — I went to Norris's Preach- 
ing-house to meet Brother Buxton at his appoint- 
ment, at his and the neonle's rermast. T nrenrhprl 

Methodism in Tennessee. 309 

first from 1 Thess. v- 19. Brother Buxton also 
preached, from Matt, viii.' 12. We met the so- 
ciety, at which one woman professed to find peace, 
and the society warmly engaged. I parted with 
that dear man of God, Brother Buxton, and went 
to my appointment at Sion Perry's, and preached 
to a small congregation, from John iii. 3, and bap- 
tized John Wright's child, and returned in the 
evening to Mr. Douglass's. 

"Monday, August 15. — After prayer, and com- 
mitting ourselves to the kind providences of God, 
I baptized Mr. Douglass's three children. We 
left Mr. Douglass, and entered on our journey to 
North Carolina, traveled twenty-two miles, and 
lodged at Dixon's Springs, at Mr. DeBow's. Here 
our horses left us, and made their way toward 
Mr. Douglass's. My mind was much discom- 
posed. I had hard work to keep patience and 
resignation, but soon found my mind calm. Mr. 
Russell and John Hill pursued them, and got 
them at five miles, and returned at half-past nine. 
We crossed Cumberland River at twelve miles, 
Walton's Ferry, at the mouth of Caney Fork, and 
went the new road up the Ridge, between the 
Cumberland and Caney Fork, and camped at about 
twelve miles. On our way, we fell in company 
with Mr. Nash and Mr. Mann, on their way to 
Knoxville. We traveled together : the weather 
fine. We joined in prayer, and lay down to rest. 

310 Methodism in Tennessee* 

"Wednesday, August 17. — All well. We gave 
thanks, and petitioned for the blessings of the 
day, and passed on our journey 

"Thursday, August 23. — All well. We set out, 
passed through Jonesboro, and came to Nelson's 
about two o'clock. 

"Friday, August 24. — All well. Brother Kobler 
came here to his appointment, and preached from 
Rev. xxii. 14, and three following verses, after 
which I exhorted. The Lord was powerfully 
present : glory to his precious name ! After meet- 
ing, Brother Kobler went on his tour : we still 
continued at Brother Brown's. 

" Thursday, August 25.— -I went to Brother 

Whittaker's, and stayed all night, and had a com- 
fortable time. Brother Whittaker and Sister 
Whittaker mutually draw together, both for pres- 
ent and future happiness. 

"Sunday, August 27. — I preached at Nelsons 
Preaching-house, from Luke xxi. 34, 35. A large 
congregation, but had not much liberty, though 
the people were attentive. (Same place where 
I preached 2d June)." 

In 1799, he returned with his family and set- 
tled at Liberty Hill, about twelve miles south of 
Nashville, where he lived honored and respected, 
till the 11th of September, 1825, when he died, 
full of faith and hope. His house was a preach- 
ing-place, and an Annual Conference was held at 

Methodism in Tennessee. 311 

Liberty Hill, in October, 1808, the business being 
transacted in his dwelling, which is yet standing, 
and owned by his grandson, the Hon. W. H. S. 
Hill, to whom the author is indebted for many of 
the interesting items in this sketch. 

Mr. Hill was ordained deacon by Bishop Asbury, 
on the 21st January, 1792, and was ordained elder 
by Bishop McKendree, October 4,1813, at Reese's 
Chapel, near Franklin, Tennessee. Both parch- 
ments are now before the author. Liberty Hill 
Church must have been built as early as 1807 
Among the papers of Mr. Hill, we find the follow- 

Sir please pay the Trustees of the Tabranicle 
on Liberty Hill one Dollar which is the amt of 
your acct for one vial of Batemans drops and one 
vial of Castor oil, and oblyg 

Yrs Thos Lightfoot 

Mr Green Hill 
May 25th, 1807 

The following beautiful tribute was written by 
the late Rev G. W Sneed, and published in the 
Lady's Companion, August, 1849 : 

" The patriot, the philanthropist, and the Chris- 
tian, should ever be had in remembrance. Their 
deeds of daring, self-denial, and benevolence, are 
subjects worthy of special record. Gratitude 
demands our acknowledgment of the benefits 

312 Methodism in Tennessee. 

conferred upon us, and the advantages derived 
from their labors ; also, as an example to be ever 
kept before the rising generation, the youth of our 
country, by which they may form their character, 
and model their future course in life, to attain 
unto usefulness and respectability Especially 
should we not suffer to sink into oblivion the 
names of our Revolutionary sires, whose strength 
and treasure were spent in the achievement of 
our liberties, and in securing to us the great 
political advantages we now enjoy; nor our 
fathers in the ministry — particularly the pioneers 
of our beloved Methodism, who have braved the 
dangers of frontier settlers, the privations and 
toils incident to gospel labors in newly-settled 
countries, to bring us the gospel news of salvation, 
and break unto us the bread of spiritual and eter- 
nal life. 

" We consider Col. Green Hill worthy of special 
note, as uniting in his own person the three-fold 
character of patriot, philanthropist, and the Chris- 
tian minister. He was a Revolutionary patriot, 
of the real republican stamp. He served as a 
colonel in the war. What his particular field of 
labor was, and how long he served, I am not in- 
formed. So ardent were his principles of repub- 
licanism, that in every pursuit of after life he 
cherished the sentiment and manifested the feel- 
ing of liberal principles, which were often promi- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 313 

nent in his ministerial labors ; and he has declared 
from the sacred desk, if he knew where there was 
one drop of blood in his veins that was not repub- 
lican, he would have it drawn out. 

"As to his philanthropy, his acts of benevo- 
lence and kindness, during a long life, as a citizen, 
as a neighbor, and especially as sustaining the 
cause of God, and supporting the interest of the 
Church, in its various departments, can abun- 
dantly testify- And a generous community 
awarded to him the praise of the just and upright 
Christian, and they honored him with their entire 

" Some ten or twelve years after the close of 
the Revolution, he removed from North Carolina to 
the State of Tennessee — what was then called the 
Cumberland country — and settled in Williamson 
county, near Liberty Hill, a place of considerable 
note at that time, being one of the first meeting- 
houses of any importance erected by the Meth- 
odists in this Western countrv Here his liber- 
ality had ample scope, and was displayed in 
sustaining the infant Church in her struggle for 
existence and progress in these Western wilds ; 
and his hospitality manifested in the entertain- 
ment, the comfort, and encouragement of the 
weary itinerant, in his ardous labors as a pioneer 
of Methodism. Some doubtless vet remain among 
us, who belonged to what what was then called 

vm, t 14- 

314 Methodism in Tennessee. 

the Western Conference, which held its session at 
Liberty Hill, in the fall of 1808 ; and many more 
who subsequently belonged to the Tennessee 
Conference, remember the kindness and hospi- 
tality of Father Hill, when wearied and care-worn 
they have called in to repose awhile at the man- 
sion of the venerable, veteran Christian. 

" His talents as a minister of the gospel, as 
I remember, were of a solid and useful character 
— not so much of a philosophical or metaphysical 
cast, but of a plain, experimental, and practical 
kind, addressing themselves to the understanding 
and feelings of all classes, enforcing moral obli- 
gation and duty with power upon the conscience. 
He understood and highly prized our doctrines 
and usages, and was sufficiently versed in polem- 
ical divinity to successfully combat the errors 
of infidelity and deism, and completely to refute 
false doctrines. Although these were times of 
special opposition and persecution, both from pro- 
fessing Christians and from the world, yet the 
cause of Christianity and of Methodism was 
amply sustained and steadily increased under 
the labors of Colonel Hill. He was the first 
Methodist preacher that I ever heard of whom I 
have any recollection. I shall never forget one 
beautiful Sabbath, in the spring of the year, 
when I was a boy We assembled at the neigh- 
borhood school-house, near my father's, for preach- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 315 

ing, when this venerable man of God proclaimed 
unto us the glad news of salvation, through our 
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Here were prob- 
ably the first religious impressions I ever felt. 
While he portrayed in lively colors and touching 
pathos the deep depravity of the human heart, 
the mercy of God for dying sinners, the joy for 
pardoned sin, supporting grace in all our afflic- 
tions, and the happiness and glory of heaven, my 
heart was touched ; and although I was ignorant 
of the plan of salvation, and knew little or noth- 
ing of the principles of religion, yet there was an 
intense desire of soul waked up to know and 
enjoy its blessings and advantages, and I longed 
to be a man, that I might get religion. Time 
rolled on, however, and many years subsequent, 
at a camp-meeting, on a beautiful Sabbath-day, 
I was converted, and the first sermon at the next 
hour's service was preached by the venerable 
Father Hill, with his apostolic appearance, his 
gray locks floating in the breeze. He lived but 
a few years after this — preached occasionally ; but 
finally, worn down by age and infirmity, he de- 
scended peacefully and gently to the tomb, full of 
years, of honors, of the consolations of religion. 
Thus lived and thus died the venerable patriot 
and Christian minister, the Rev Colonel Green 

He sleeps at Liberty Hill. 

316 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Colonel Hill had a son — the Rev. Joshua C. 
Hill — who was also an ornament to his Church. 
He was licensed to exhort in 1820. Here is a 
copy of his license : 

Joshua C. Hill has applied to us for liberty to 
Exhort in our Church and after due enqiry con- 
cerning his gifts, grace and usefulness we judge 
he is a proper person to be licensed for that pur- 
pose and we accordingly do authorize him to 
Exhort. Syned in behalf of the Society at 
Liberty Meeting house in Nashville Circuit 

Samuel Harwell A. P. 
23 Dec 1820 

He was ordained deacon by Bishop Roberts 
at Shelby ville, Tennessee, on the loth of Novem- 
ber, 1825. 

Joshua C. was born August 10, 1795, in 
Franklin county, North Carolina, and died in his 
thirty- second year, not long after he was or- 

The following notices appeared in the secular 
papers at the time of his death : 

"Died, at half-past 5 p.m., on the 12th inst., 
after a lingering illness of near twelve months, 
which he bore with exemplary patience and Chris- 
tian fortitude, Major Joshua C. Hill, aged 32. 

" The partiality of friends, and the vanity of 
relations, have rendered the custom of eulogizing 

Methodism in Tennessee. 317 

the dead and lauding their virtues so common, 
that a small part of an obituary is believed, save 
that such a man lived and such a man died. For 
those who knew Major Hill, this is enough to in- 
form them, that society has lost a worthy mem- 
ber, our country an honest, upright, correct 
citizen, his amiable wife an affectionate com- 
panion, his infant children an indulgent father, 
and his servants a kind master. To his Chris- 
tian brethren w T e would say, that it never was 
more incontestably verified that ' Jesus can make 
a dying-bed as soft as downy pillows are' than 
in his last moments. Collected, calm, and re- 
signed, he had long viewed his approaching dis- 
solution as inevitable. A few moments before he 
expired, he said, ( I am dying !' He called for his 
wife, his children, his servants, and his friends. 
He took each separately by the hand, gave them 
his dying advice, and bestowed on them his last 
benediction. When this solemn scene was per- 
formed, he folded his arms, closed his eyes, and 
without a groan, or the distortion of a lineament 
of his mild and serene countenance, softly breathed 
his soul to that God who gave it." 

" Departed this life, on the 12th day of May, 
in the thirty-second year of his age, the Rev. 
Joshua C. Hill, after an illness of more than 
twelve months. During the whole of his illness, 
his resignation to the will of Heaven evinced to 

318 Methodism in Tennessee. 

his friends that he had an unshaken confidence 
in divine grace. A few moments before he died, 
he called his wife to his bedside, affectionately 
bade her adieu, and exhorted her to try to meet 
him in heaven ; he next bade his children adieu, 
then his servants, and all who were present; 
then fell asleep to wake no more until the 
resurrection of the just. He was a kind and 
affectionate husband, a tender and indulgent par- 
ent, a friendly and obliging neighbor, an honorable 
and respectable citizen, a true and warm friend, a 
zealous Christian, and a sound divine. Death to 
him seemed entirely to have lost its sting. 

" "T is finished ! so his spirit cried : 
He meekly bowed his head and died. 
'T is finished ! yes, his race is run, 
The battle's fought, the victory won!'" 

Mr. Joshua C. Hill left a family of children, 
one of whom afterward married the. Rev. William 
Burr, of the Tennessee Conference. She was an 
excellent Christian woman, and died in Christ 
some years since. 

The Rev John L. Hill, late a member of the 
Tennessee Conference, has left the following rec- 
ord, prepared by the Rev A. S. Riggs : 

" Brother Hill was of excellent parentage. He 
was the son of the late Rev. Joshua C. Hill, and 
grandson of the Rev Green Hill, an early and 

Methodism in Tennessee. 319 

distinguished minister of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. Hence, like young Timothy, Brother 
Hill was early taught a knowledge of the Scrip- 
tures. He was born in Williamson county, Ten- 
nessee, September 6, 1821. His disposition was 
amiable and lovely, and his friendships warm and 
sincere ; he possessed an unsuspecting and confid- 
ing heart, and was ardently attached to his friends. 
He made a public profession of faith in the Lord 
Jesus Christ, at Mount Olivet Camp-meeting, in 
the fall of 1841, and attached himself to the 
Church of his fathers. He held connection with 
the society at Liberty, Mill Creek Circuit, and 
was regularly licensed to preach September 25, 
1843. In 1844, he was admitted on trial in the 
Tennessee Conference, and passed the regular 
grades of the ministry, having been ordained 
deacon, in 1846, by Bishop Andrew, and elder 
by Bishop Paine, in 1848. The different fields 
occupied by Brother Hill, as a traveling preacher, 
we cannot now call to mind, but he was a regular 
itinerant during the whole period of his minis- 
terial career, except one year, during which he 
sustained a local relation to the Church. He, 
however, could not be happy and content out of 
the regular work, and returned after one year to 
the itinerant ranks, where all his energies might 
be put forth in the high and holy calling of the 

320 Methodism in Tennessee. 

" It was my privilege to see our deceased 
brother, the Rev. John L. Hill, a few days be- 
fore he died. I found him in a calm, serene state 
of mind, with an unclouded sky, strong in faith, 
giving glory to God. He grasped me affection- 
ately by the hand, as I approached his bedside, 
and exclaimed, '0 I am glad to see you!' 
After some conversation, he said to me, * Our 
youngest child has not yet been baptized — I wish 
to have it solemnly dedicated to God in holy 
baptism before I go hence ;' and while the ordi- 
nance was being administered to the child, the 
baptism of the Holy Spirit came upon us. We 
had a sweet season of communion with God, and 
those present felt that, 

' " The chamber where the good man meets his fate, 
Is privileged beyond the common walks of life, 
Quite in the verge of heaven.' 

"After some minutes spent in weeping and 
silent communion with God, he said to me, 
' Brother Riggs, when I joined the Tennessee 
Conference, I believed I was joining a body of 
holy men ; I loved them then, and I love them 
still. When you all meet at the next Conference, 
I shall not be with you. Tell all the brethren 
for me, and especially my own class, to be faithful 
to their high trust, and meet me in heaven. I 
have lived for years in reference to this hour; 

Methodism in Tennessee. 321 

and now that it has come, I have no fears. It 
has been my custom to spend one day in each 
week as a day of fasting and prayer, and my 
spiritual birthday has been observed annually in 
the same way ; and I have never passed one yet, 
but God was so srood and merciful to me as to 
make me shouting happy in his love.' Such were 
his words of triumph when physician and friends 
had despaired of his recovery He was a sweet- 
spirited young man, loved God and his Church, 
and is gone, doubtless, to his home in heaven." 

Thus for generations this family has honored 
God, and he has honored the family that feared 

We transfer to our pages the preliminary re- 
marks of the Rev. D. R. McAnally, D.D., in his 
sketch of Methodism in the Holston country : 

"At the date of the organization of the first 
Methodist society in America — which, though 
usually fixed in 1766, was doubtless, as shown 
by recent historical developments, a few years 
earlier than that — there were comparatively few 
families residing in all that country now embraced 
in the bounds of the Holston Conference. In 
1754, less than a dozen families resided in the 
territory bounded east and south by New River 
and the Alleghany Mountains, and north and 
west by the Cumberland Mountains. From this 
time, however, the number was gradually and 

322 Methodism in Tennessee. 

almost constantly increased by emigration from 
the colonies of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North 
Carolina, but principally from the last-named, 
until, some twenty years afterward, or in 1774, 
there was a considerable population, made up, as 
may be supposed, of traders, pioneers, and adven- 
turers of almost every caste and grade. In the 
meantime, Methodism, from very small and in- 
auspicious beginnings, though scarce a dozen 
years had passed in its American history, had 
widely extended itself, particularly in the South 
and South-west. The energy, diligence, and per- 
severance of its preachers were equal to the emer- 
gencies upon them, and wherever men were to 
be preached to, there they sought to go. The dif- 
ficulties of traveling, the povery of the people, and 
the numberless hardships attending their work, 
had no terrors to them; while, intent only on 
saving souls, by the spread of pure evangelical 
truth, they pressed on from neighborhood to neigh- 
borhood, and from colony to colony, nor thought 
of stopping while there were yet men, for whom 
Christ died, destitute of the word of life and 
the blessings of a gospel ministration. Their 
character, their course, and their success, consid- 
ered merely in the light of historical narrative, 
or seen only by the historian's eye, present a 
scene almost, if not altogether,, without a parallel, 
and exhibit results not to be satisfactorily ac- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 323 

counted for on any known principles of human 
philosophy It was fortunate, however, for the 
country, at that period of its history, there were 
such men in it. Thousands heard the gospel 
through their agency, who, but for them, would, 
so far as human wisdom can see, have been utterly 
deprived of that privilege ; and the conservative 
moral influence thus thrown around the scattered 
settlers of new countries was of incalculable ad- 
vantage, not only to the immediate subjects of 
such influence, but to the country at large. Bad 
and wicked passions were thus restrained — crime 
was prevented — the better feelings of human 
nature drawn out and cultivated to an extent 
not only advantageous to the then existing pop- 
ulation, but also to the generations that should 
come after them. This influence molded society 
to a better and more healthy state of things than 
would otherwise have existed, and it is impossible 
now to calculate the beneficial results of labors 
bestowed at such a time, and under such circum- 
stances. "While a wise Providence was preparing 
a way for a great change in the political and civil 
condition and aspect of the country, the moral 
interests were not neglected; and that these 
might receive the necessary attention at the 
proper time, and be prepared for coming events, the 
gospel of grace was sent in a way and by means 
such as had not been used from the days of the 

324 Methodism in Tennessee. 

apostles till then. Men, suited to the age in 
which they lived, and to the circumstances under 
which they were placed, were strangely sent 
forth to accomplish what seemed almost impossi- 
ble — to do a work involving the severest hard- 
ships and most fearful responsibilities — a work 
which none others, perhaps, could have done ; 
and yet they went forth, amid all the oppositions 
and discouragements attending them, and labored 
with a success almost unprecedented in the annals 
of Christianity- In less than a dozen years from 
the date of their organization in this country, 
they had spread themselves, and caused their in- 
fluence to be felt, from New York to the heart 
of the Carolinas; and in less than twenty-five 
years from the first Conference of Methodist 
preachers, when their number was only ten, there 
was scarce an important settlement from Kenne- 
bec to the Savannah, and from the Atlantic on the 
east to the farthest settlements of the Western 
country, but where something was known of their 
doctrines and manner of life, while they then num- 
bered their preachers by hundreds, and their mem- 
bership by thousands. 

" It was a remarkable and, no doubt, providen- 
tial feature in the early history of Methodism in 
this country, that it took deep and fast hold on 
the minds and hearts of the less wealthy classes 
of society, and those less cumbered with worldly 

Methodism in Tennessee. 325 

goods and worldly cares. These are the classes 
most given to migrations from place to place, and 
these are specially they who are most likely to 
be first in the occupancy of new countries. Hun- 
dreds of this class pushed westwardly as fast as 
the obstacles to the settlement of the country 
could be overcome ; and, carrying with them the 
love and principles of Methodism which they had 
previously imbibed, they sent back the Mace- 
donian cry of Come over and help us ! and thus 
contributed very greatly toward the spread of the 
doctrines and principles they loved. This was 
more or less the case all the time, and helps to 
account for the wonderful rapidity with which 
Methodism was spread in the West. No sooner 
was a settlement formed, if there happened to be 
two or three members or friends of the Method- 
ists in it, than a notice was sent, by the earliest 
opportunity, to some preacher that they desired 
preaching ; and no sooner did the preachers receive 
such notices than they prepared at once to go, if at 
all practicable. No contracts were made — no 
stipulations were entered into, other than, per- 
haps, a promise that some of the settlers would 
meet the preacher at some designated point, con- 
duct him to the settlement, and, when there, he 
should be welcome to such as they had. In this 
way many sections were reached, and hundreds 
of people preached to, and brought under the 

326 Methodism in Tennessee. 

wholesome restraints of the gospel, who other- 
wise might have long remained in a quite differ- 
ent condition. Had the early conquests of Meth- 
odism in this country been confined to those in 
comparatively easy circumstances — the well-set- 
tled land - proprietors — emigration would have 
been less, so far as Methodist influence was con- 
cerned, and the cause deprived of this, one of the 
most successful means by which its interests were 
spread. Herein may be seen the providence of 
God. A great moral work was to be accomplished 
in the sparsely-settled regions of the West and 
South-west. The foundations of society were to 
be laid under new circumstances, and society it- 
self molded anew to the circumstances attending 
and the destinies that awaited it, and these the 
agencies and these the means chosen for the ac- 
complishment of that work. 

" It was in this way Methodism first found its 
way into the section of country now under notice. 
At an early period after its permanent organi- 
zation in America, it was introduced, and made 
considerable progress, in the interior of North 
Carolina, and thence, by emigration of its mem- 
bers and friends, was carried to regions watered 
by the Holston and Watauga Rivers. The settle- 
ments near the head-waters of these rivers were 
formed principally by persons from North Car- 
olina, and a few from Eastern Virginia. Among 

Methodism in Tennessee. 327 

these early emigrants toward the West, were 
Methodist members, leaders, and local preachers, 
who, though far removed from former associations 
and influences, still retained their love for the 
cause they had espoused. Hence they acted to- 
gether, for their mutual edification and benefit — 
had their preachings and their prayer -meetings 
— solicited the attention and labors of the travel- 
ing preachers east of the mountains, and were, at 
long intervals, served by them, from time to time, 
as their pressing engagements would alloAV. 

"At the Conference held in May, 1783, there 
was a return made of the Holston Circuit, with 
sixty members ; and with this year the statistical 
history of Methodism in that country begins. 
The reader will observe this was only seventeen 
years after the commonly -received date of the 
organization of the first Methodist society in 
America, and only ten years after the first Con- 
ference, when the whole number of preachers, as 
previously stated, was only ten. So it will be 
seen that Methodism in the bounds of the Hol- 
ston Conference dates back almost as far as in 
any other portion of the country But to the 
mind of the writer, with the evidence before him, 
there are good reasons to date it back earlier 
than this, and date its commencement in 1776, 
when Drumgoole, Poythress, and Tatum, labored 
in Carolina, gathering members and forming cir- 

328 Methodism in Tennessee. 

cuits ; or certainly in 1777, when King, Dickens, 
Cole, and Pride, labored at the same work, in 
the same regions of country This, as the writer 
believes, and not without good reason, is the date 
that should be fixed for the permanent organiza- 
tion of Methodist societies in that country, and 
thereafter they were visited by traveling preach- 
ers, from time to time, as they could find oppor- 
tunity, until the time when the Holston Circuit 
was formed and reported, as stated above. There 
were then (in 1783) sixty members in these 
bounds. Who had gathered them ? Evidently 
the preachers Avho had labored there, and whose 
circuits lay principally in North Carolina, east of 
the mountains. If the reader be curious on this 
subject, and will take the pains to examine, he will 
find that, after its introduction to the Holston 
country, Methodism worked its way northward 
and eastward in Virginia, and also that the Hol- 
ston work was connected with that in Carolina 
immediately east of the mountains, clearly in- 
dicating that from thence it found its way to that 
country almost as soon as to any part of North 

u 'At the Conference of 1783, when the Holston 
Circuit was formed, or, rather, reported in the 
Minutes, there were, in the entire Connection in 
America, thirteen thousand seven hundred and 
forty members, and eighty-two preachers were 

Methodism in Tennessee. 329 

this year stationed. But if the history be com- 
menced in 1776, which the writer believes to be 
the proper date, there were at that time twenty- 
four preachers, and four thousand nine hundred 
and twenty-one members in the Connection. So 
the operations of Methodist preachers, in what is 
now the bounds of the Holston Conference, had an 
early, if not a fair, start. 

"Jeremiah Lambert was the first appointee to 
the Holston Circuit, as such. The war of the 
Revolution being about ended, and the tide of 
emigration setting strongly in that direction, the 
number of members in the Church having in- 
creased, as well as the federal population, and 
this country being separated by high mountains 
from that on the east, it was deemed best, in lay- 
ing off the work, to separate it from that with 
which it had previously been connected, and as- 
sign it to one man. Mr. Lambert's circuit em- 
braced all the settlements on the Watauga, Noli- 
chucky, and Holston Rivers, including those in 
what is now Greene, Washington, Carter, Johnson, 
Sullivan, and Hawkins counties, Tennessee, and 
Washington, Smyth, Russell, and perhaps Lee 
and Scott counties, Virginia. This circuit he trav- 
eled during the year, but, as the country was very 
sparsely settled, provisions scarce, and the Indi- 
ans very troublesome, his hardships must have 
been very great and his sufferings severe — no 

330 Methodism in Tennessee. 

accommodations, in the modern acceptation of 
that term, for traveling, lodging, study, or any 
thing else — without pay, without hope of earthly 
reward, without earthly friends or protectors, and 
often without food or shelter — he made his way, 
as best he could, in the name and for the sake of 
Him who had said, c Lo, I am with you alway, 
even to the end of the world ;' and at the next 
Conference, or in April, 1784, he returned sev- 
enty-six members, or sixteen more than he had 
received. This good man ended his career on 
earth *a few years after this, and was taken to his 
reward on high. Henry Willis was appointed to 
succeed him on the circuit ; but at the Conference 
next ensuing this, there was no return of the 
numbers in Society, or at least the General Min- 
utes of that date show none ; consequently it is 
impossible to tell what success may or may not 
have attended Mr. Willis's labors. 

"At the Conference for 1785, after the organi- 
zation of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the 
ordination of a portion of the traveling preachers, 
Holston and Yadkin Circuits were connected under 
the charge of one Elder, and supplied as follows : 

"Henry Willis, Elder. Yadkin Circuit, Henry 
Bingham, Thomas Williamson. Holston, Richard 
Swift, Michael Gilbert. 

" This was the Conference to which Mr. Willis 
should have reported the members in Society. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 331 

"At the next Conference, or in the spring of 
1786, there were two hundred and fifty members 
returned from the Holston Circuit — a large in- 
crease over the returns of 1784; but it cannot 
now be ascertained whether this increase was 
mostly during the year just closed, or during the 
year before, nor is it at all important." * 

* Life and Times of Dr. Patton, pp. 97-105. 

332 Methodism in Tennessee. 


Dr. Mc Anally 's observations — Numbers in Society — Expla- 
nation — 1800 a remarkable year — The great revival — 
The manner of its beginning — Camp-meetings — Their 
origin — The manner of conducting them — The fruit — ■ 
The revival begins without much extra effort — Christ 
preached — Strange power on the preachers and the peo- 
ple — How the work was regarded — The jerks — The 
origin of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church — Barton 
W Stone's account — Unity among Christians — Rev. L. 
Garrett's Recollections — Dissensions — Bishop Asbury's 

The Conference for the year 1800 was held at 
Dunworth, on the Holston, in April. Dr. Mc- 
Anally says : 

" Bishop Asbury did not attend it. At that 
time, he was in the South, in bad health, slowly 
making his way on toward Baltimore, where the 
General Conference was to meet on the first of 
May The Conference was, however, held, and 
the usual business transacted. The numbers in 
Society were reported as 1,055 white, and 86 col- 
ored, members; total, 1,141. In the stationing of 
the preachers, the District was left to be supplied, 
and as it embraced all of South- Western Virginia, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 33 


all of East Tennessee, all of K entucky, and all 
the settled parts of Ohio — or the North-western 
Texdtoxyj as it was then called — the probabilities 
are, there was no particular anxiety on the part 
of any one man to supply it. provided he had to 
be that supply 

" The settlements in Kentucky were rapidly 
enlarging and being filled up, and all the Western 
preachers who could be spared were taken for that 
work; so that only three were left for all the 
Holston country New River, Holston, and Rus- 
sell Circuits were united under the care of John 
Watson and John Page, while James Hunter was 
sent to Green. One preacher only (William Lam- 
buth) was all that could be, or that was, afforded 
to the Cumberland, or West Tennessee, country, 
while there were seven in Kentucky Regarding 
the facts connected with the early history of the 
Church in these different sections, and seeing the 
manifest advantages given to the Kentucky settle- 
ments, the reader would naturally expect to find 
Methodism there greatly in advance of what it 
was in the other sections. And this was the case 
for many years ; but the precedence thus gained 
was not well sustained, and in process of time the 
others not only overtook, but in many important 
respects outstripped, their early-favored sister. A 
close inquiry into the reason of this, prosecuted 
with a cool, philosophic pen, would reveal facts. 

334 Methodism in Tennessee. 

and the operation of principles, important to Meth- 
odists everywhere, and through all time; but such 
an inquiry pertains to the general historiographer 
of the Church. 

" Very soon after the close of the General Con- 
ference of this year, Bishops Asbury and What- 
coat (the latter of whom had been elected and 
ordained at this Conference) made a tour to the 
West. Passing through the Valley of Virginia, 
and on by w T ay of Wythe Court-house and Abing- 
don, they entered East Tennessee, and passed on 
to near the mouth of Nolichucky ; thence they 
turned northward, and, by way of Bean's Station 
and the Cumberland Gap, entered Kentucky. 
After spending some time in the various settle- 
ments there, they set off for Mero District, or the 
Cumberland country, by way of the 'barrens,' in 
the south-western part of Kentucky- This was 
Bishop Asbury's first visit to this region. He 
preached at Nashville, and various other points in 
Middle Tennessee, and then passing across the 
Cumberland Mountains by the old route — Spen- 
cer's Hill and the Crab Orchard — he returned to 
East Tennessee, and preached at various points, 
from South-west Point (Kingston) to the mouth 
of Nolichucky, where he had left his carriage 
when going out. From this last-named place he 
went south, by way of the Warm Springs and 
Buncombe Court-house, in North Carolina. As 

Methodism in Tennessee. 335 

these journeys were made by stages of from 
twenty to forty miles a day, and often by zigzag 
routes, opportunity was given to see and preach 
to many people, as well as attend the Conferences, 
and superintend the general interests of the 

The reader will not fail to perceive that Dr. 
McAnally gives the returns for that portion of the 
work now embraced in the Holston Conference ; 
while the General Minutes only report 681 white, 
and 62 colored, members in Tennessee — to wit: 
Cumberland, 247 whites, 40 colored; Green, 434 
whites, 22 colored. This showed a small increase 
upon the previous year. 

The preachers appointed to these two fields of 
labor, as Ave have seen, were William Lambuth 
and James Hunter, John Page having been re- 
moved from South-western Virginia to Cumber- 
land soon after the adjournment of the Conference. 
The year 1800 was a most remarkable one in the 
history of religion in Tennessee and Kentucky : it 
was the year of the Great Revival — a revival that 
resulted in a general awakening, and in the con- 
version of thousands multiplied. This extraordi- 
nary work of grace began in a manner almost as 
remarkable as the w T ork itself. 

The reader has seen in the account of the Rev 

*Life and Times of Dr. Patton, pp. 12-V127 

336 Methodism in Tennessee. 

John Page, that there were signs of the coming 
revival on the Cumberland Circuit in 1799 ; and 
he has read the thrilling letter of the Rev John 
McGee, which states that the work began to man- 
ifest itself, in a most extraordinary manner, the 
same year on Red River, in Kentucky, near the 
Tennessee line, and that from that meeting the 
work extended in various directions. The most 
wonderful display was at Desha's Creek, near the 
Cumberland River, where many thousands had 
collected together. This was a camp-meeting, and 
was perhaps the second or third ever held in the 
country ; indeed, it was in this great revival that 
camp-meetings originated. Families came from a 
distance to attend sacramental, quarterly, or other 
popular meetings. To carry all conveniently, a 
Avagon was brought into requisition. Their pro- 
visions were taken along, so as to enable the par- 
ties to remain on the ground and enjoy the full 
benefit of the services ; then the idea of a tent, 
where the whole family might remain on the 
ground during the entire meeting, and find a place 
of rest and shelter ; and finally the " camp-meet- 
ing," where thousands collected together, and re- 
mained upon the ground for a week or longer, 
preaching, praying, singing, and laboring with 
penitents. Some procured cloth tents, similar to 
those used by soldiers in the " tented field;" others 
made bush-arbors, in connection with their covered 

Methodism in Tennessee. 337 

wagons and carriages ; others still put up tempo- 
rary shelters of poles and boards, where they were 
protected from the night dews and the showers of 
rain. At length the regular, well-appointed camp- 
ground became an institution in the country 

The grounds were generally laid out near to 
some flowing spring, affording abundance of water 
for man and beast. The plot was usually square, 
with a shelter in the center for public worship. 
These shelters were sometimes spacious, suffi- 
ciently large to accommodate thousands of per- 
sons. At one end a pulpit was erected, which 
was usually a rude platform with a book-board, 
and a place for a pitcher of water and candle- 
sticks. In front of the pulpit w T as the altar : this 
was designed as a place for penitents, where they 
might be collected together for prayer and religious 
instruction. This altar w T as usually made of poles, 
or square pieces of hewn timber placed on posts, 
at the four corners, with openings for ingress and 
egress. Inside the altar were seats, called by 
many, and sometimes in derision, the "mourner's 
bench." At the close of the sermon or exhorta- 
tion, an invitation was given for mourners, or peni- 
tents, to come to the altar — that is, such as were 
convinced of sin, and were inquiring " what they 
should do to be saved," were invited to approach 
seats set apart for them, where they w r ould be in- 
structed in the way of the Lord more perfectly, 
vol. i. — 15 

338 Methodism in Tennessee. 

and where Christians would unite in songs, and 
hymns, and fervent prayer for their deliverance. 
These altar exercises sometimes continued for 
many hours, especially after the evening sermon, 
and many thousands found peace in Jesus, while 
kneeling in prayer, and crying, " Lord, save, or 
we perish !" In process of time, these camp- 
grounds became very large in many localities, and 
were made very comfortable places of sojourn. 
Good log or framed houses, with fire-places and 
convenient furniture, were not uncommon. Under 
the shelter, and among the seats and around the 
camps, there was a profusion of straw, which 
made the grounds pleasant and cleanly The 
services were generally conducted in the following 
manner — viz. : 

In the morning, at daylight, a trumpet was 
sounded, as a signal for the people to arise and 
prepare for worship. At the second sound, prayer 
was held in each of the tents. At the third sound, 
all who could leave their tents collected together 
for public prayer at the stand. Theo came break- 
fast. At eight and at eleven o'clock a.m., and at 
three o'clock p.m., and early candle-lighting, there 
was preaching and exhortation, followed by a 
prayer-meeting with the penitents. The preach- 
ing was intended to be suited to the occasion, and 
was expected to be animated and with power. It 
was customary for each sermon to be followed by 

Methodism in Tennessee. 339 

an exhortation, allowing the second man or ex- 
horter to apply the subject and move the congre- 
gation to action. The singing was an important 
part of worship. Generally there were certain 
persons selected, who were gifted with the power 
of song, to lead in this exercise ; but the whole 
multitude would join in some chorus-hymn, until 
their voices, like the sound of many waters, would 
swell up in delightful melody and roll with sweet 
harmony, while the valleys would become vocal 
with praise to God and the hills echo with halle- 
lujahs to Jesus. 

The good accomplished at these meetings will 
never in time be properly estimated. They were 
extraordinary occasions, adapted to the times, and 
were, under God, a great blessing. 

The manner in which this great revival began 
was remarkable. There seems to have been no 
particular or special effort on the part of the 
Church or the ministry for a revival. True the 
preachers were faithful, self-denying, and zealous 
in the cause of Christ. They went forth praying 
sinners to be reconciled to God ; but there was no 
one great revival preacher, like George Whitefielcl, 
sweeping as a comet through the heavens ; there 
were no protracted -meetings at which, by long 
and united effort, a revival was the result ; but a 
strange and unusual power came upon the preach- 
ers and upon the people in the use of the ordinary 

340 Methodism in Tennessee. 

means of grace. Mr. McGee says : ■" I was in- 
vited to address the congregation from the pulpit, 
and I know not that God ever favored me with 
more light and liberty than he did each day " 

It was a sacramental occasion with Mr. Mc- 
Gready's congregation. Messrs. Hodge and Wil- 
liam McGee, visiting brethren, says Mr. John 
McGee, the Methodist, " preached with much ani- 
mation and liberty." All was silent till Monday 
"While Mr. Hodge was preaching a "useful dis- 
course," the power of God came down, and "a 
woman in the east end of the house got an uncom- 
mon blessing, broke through order, and shouted 
for some time." At the close of the sermon, three 
Presbyterian ministers — Messrs. McGready, Ran- 
kin, and Hodge — left the house : the two McGees 
sat still. The people were disinclined to leave 
their seats. A strange power came over William 
McGee, and he quit his seat and sat on the floor 
of the pulpit. John felt a power come upon him, 
which caused him to tremble. He wanted to 
preach, strove against his feelings, rose and told 
the people he was appointed to preach ; but there 
was no use — a greater than he was preaching, 
" Let the Lord God omnipotent reign !" Many 
broke silence. The woman in the east end of the 
house shouted tremendously Mr. McGee loft 
the pulpit, and attempted to go to her; felt that 
he war: breaking order — "that the people would 

Methodism in Tennessee, 341 

not bear confusion, that he should turn back and 
be quiet, was near falling, turned again, and, los- 
ing the fear of man, he went through the house 
shouting and exhorting, full of ecstasy and energy, 
and soon the floor was covered with the slain !" 

Such was this strange influence that came upon 
the people and the preachers, in an hour and in a 
manner altogether unexpected by them. From 
this time forward, for months and for years, an 
unusual power rested upon the pulpit and upon 
the congregations. Some doubted, others scoffed, 
but most men said, " This work is of the Lord, 
and it is marvelous in our eyes." 

In this revival the Cumberland Presbyterian 
Church had its origin. As has been seen, the 
work was extraordinary, and the means compara- 
tively inadequate ; indeed, it was manifest that 
the power of God was at work among the people. 
Several young men, who were converted and en- 
tered the Presbyterian Church, felt called of God 
to the work of the ministry ; but such were the 
rules and regulations of the Church, that candi- 
dates for the ministry must give evidence of the 
attainment of a certain degree of classical learning 
and theological training before they could be or- 
dained. These young men had not the required 
qualifications, and consequently the Presbytery 
that gave them license fell under the censure of 
the Synod and General Assembly. This produced 

342 Methodism in Tennessee. 

a division, and the "revival party," as they 
claimed to be, formed an independent Presbytery, 
which finally resulted in the organization of the 
Cumberland Presbyterian Church. 

The organization was not fully perfected till 
1810. Preliminaries had been taken, and con- 
siderable progress had been made ; but not till 
February, 1810, was the new Cumberland Pres- 
bytery constituted. This was done at the house 
of the Rev Samuel Me Ado w, in Dickson county, 
Tennessee. The first Presbytery was composed 
of four ordained ministers — viz., Samuel McAdow, 
Finis Ewing, Samuel King, and Ephraim McLean, 
the last of whom they ordained themselves — with 
five licensed preachers — viz., James B. Porter, 
Hugh Kirkpatrick, Robert Bell, James Farr, David 
Foster, and eight candidates for the ministry 
This Presbytery was soon enlarged into a Synod, 
and in 1829 a General Assembly was formed. A 
Confession of Faith was in due time adopted, and 
this young Church went forward in preaching, 
establishing churches, and erecting schools and col- 
leges, until it has become a large and influential 
body of Christians in the West and South-west. 

In creed they differ with the Old School Pres- 
byterians. They discard the doctrine of uncon- 
ditional election and reprobation ; they believe 
and teach that Christ died for every sinner, that 
the benefits of the atonement extend to all ; they 

Methodism in Tennessee. 343 

teach the freedom of the human will, and invite 
all men, without limit or restriction, to come to 
Christ and be saved ; but they hold to the doc- 
trine of " the final unconditional perseverance of 
the saints." Their form of government is presby- 
terial, and their mode of worship very much like 
that of the Methodists. Their ministers are gen- 
erally men of zeal, and their churches have the 
spirit of piety They have participated largely in 
camp-meetings, and are generally what are termed 
"revivalists." They make many of their converts 
from among the descendants of the Scotch and 
Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. As a body of Chris- 
tians, they are orderly, and have all the marks of 
genuine piety, and have accomplished much good. 
An effort was made a short time since to bring 
about a reunion between this Church and the Old 
School Presbyterians, in the South, but the at- 
tempt did not succeed. 

The following, from the Ecclesiastical and Edu- 
cational Almanac for 1869, may be regarded as a 
fair statement of the present condition of this 
branch of the Presbyterian Church : 

" Communicants, 130,000 ; ministers, 1,500 ; 
General Assembly, 1 ; Synods, 24 ; Presby- 
teries, 99. 

" Universities. — Cumberland University, Leb- 
anon, Tennessee ; Lincoln University, Lincoln, 

34-i Methodism in Tennessee. 

''Colleges. — Male : Waynesburg College, Waynes- 
burg, Pennsylvania ; McGee College. College 
Mound, Missouri ; Bethel College. MeLemores- 
ville, Tennessee ; Sonoma College. Sonoma, Cali- 
fornia. Female : Cumberland Female College, 
MeMinnville, Tennessee ; Boonville Female Col- 
lege, Boonville, Missouri ; Union Female College. 
Oxford, Mississippi ; Donnell Female College, 
Winchester. Tennessee ; Bransford Female Col- 
lege, Owensboro, Kentucky ; Ward's Female Col- 
lege. Nashville. Tennessee. 

*• There are about twenty male academies, and 
some fifteen female academies. 

^Periodicals. — Banner of Peace. Nashville, Ten- 
nessee ; Sabbath School Gem. Nashville, Tennes- 
see—both edited bv T. C. Blake. D.D. The 
Cumberland Presbyterian. Alton, Illinois — edited 
by Revs. J. B. Logan and J. R. Brown. The 
Pacific Observer, Stockton. California — edited by 
Rev T. M. Johnston. The Protestant Mission- 
ary — edited bv Rev J G. White. 

" The Board of Publication is loeated at Nash- 
ville. Tennessee : Rev J. C. Provine is the Agent. 

"Boards of Missions. — Lebanon, Tennessee; 
Rev. T. C. Anderson, D.D., is the Corresponding 
Secretary Alton, Illinois ; Rev J R. Brown, 
Corresponding Secretary " 

In reviewing the history of the great revival of 
1800, the impartial reader is forced to the conclu- 

Methodism ifi Tennessee. 345 

sion that gross injustice has been done many of 
the most conspicuous and successful" ministers en- 
gaged in that glorious work. Several writers, 
who profess to be very particular and minute in 
the details, have almost entirely ignored the 
Methodist element. The idea is made prominent, 
that the revival originated among the Presby- 
terians, and was carried forward by Presbyterians; 
that in the Presbyterian Church there were two 
parties, the revival party and the anti-revivalists ; 
and that in the final issue the revival party went 
into the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and 
those opposed to the revival remained with the 
old Presbyterians. Nothing could be farther 
from the truth. The facts in the case are briefly 
these : 

1. The doctrines that were preached in the 
revival were Methodistic doctrines, distinctly so. 
Free salvation, full salvation, present salvation, 
justification by faith, the regeneration of the heart 
by the Holy Ghost, the knowledge of sins for- 
given, or the witness of the Holy Spirit that the 
believer is born of God, the joy of religion which 
is the fruit of the Spirit, and that now (to-day) is 
the day of salvation : these doctrines, for more 
than ten years, had been kept before the people. 
Ogden and Haw, Poythress and Lee, Massie and 
McHenry, Brooks and Burke, Wilkerson and Page, 

McGee and others, all through the settled portions 

346 Methodism in Tennessee. 

of Tennessee and Southern Kentucky, had pro- 
claimed these doctrines by night and by day, and 
under their ministry already had thousands been 

2. When the revival began to exhibit its extra- 
ordinary manifestations, the Methodists were 
among the most active and successful reapers in 
the glorious harvest. It is true that Presby- 
terians were in the work, and that they worked 
as faithful servants of Christ. They and the 
Methodists labored together in harmony, and re- 
joiced together in their success ; but the revival 
was not confined to the Presbyterians or to the 
Methodists, but both worked together in the 
Master's vineyard, and each ascribed the glory 
to God. 

Accompanying this revival, were those strange 
bodily exercises called the "jerks," which have 
never been satisfactorily explained upon philo- 
sophical principles. Men and women, the aged 
and the young, the intelligent and the ignorant, 
the pious and the wicked, at home and at church, 
in public and in private, of all religions, were alike 
seized with a power that was irresistible. The 
author himself, at a later day, witnessed many of 
these strange things. The subjects would be 
tosse 1 to and fro, sometimes thrown upon the 
ground or floor with violence, where they would 
lie, apparently in a state of unconsciousness, for 

Methodism in Tennessee. 347 

hours, then, rising suddenly, they would leap and 
jump, shout and dance, until they completely ex- 
hausted themselves. 

The Rev Barton W Stone, long a minister in 
Kentucky, thus describes the " jerks" and kin- 
dred exercises : 

"The bodily agitations or exercises attending 
the excitement in the beginning of this century 
were various, and called by various names, as the 
falling exercise, the jerks, the dancing exercise, 
the barking exercise, the laughing and singing ex- 
ercises, and so on. The falling exercise was very 
common among all classes, the saints and sinners 
of every age and grade, from the philosopher to 
the clown. The subject of this exercise would 
generally, with a piercing scream, fall like a log 
on the floor or earth, and appear as dead. Of 
thousands of similar cases, I will mention one : 
At a meeting, two gay young ladies, sisters, were 
standing together, attending the exercises and 
preaching at the same time, when instantly they 
both fell with a shriek of distress, and lay for 
more than an hour apparently in a lifeless state. 
Their mother, a pious Baptist, was in great dis- 
tress, fearing they would not revive. At length 
they began to exhibit signs of life, by crying fer- 
vently for mercy, and then relapsed into the same 
death -like state, with an awful gloom on their 
countenances; after awhile, the gloom on the 

348 Methodism in Tennessee. 

face of one was succeeded by a heavenly smile, 
and she cried out, ' Precious Jesus !' and spoke of 
the glory of the gospel to the surrounding crowd 
in language almost superhuman, and exhorted all 
to repentance. In a little while after, the other 
sister was similarly exercised. From that time 
they became remarkably pious members of the 

" I have seen very many pious persons fall in 
the same way, from a sense of the danger of their 
unconverted children, brothers, or sisters, or from 
a sense of the danger of their neighbors in a sin- 
ful world. I have heard them agonizing in tears, 
and strongly crying for mercy to be shown to 
sinners, and speaking like angels all around. 

" The jerks cannot be so easily described. Some- 
times the subject of the jerks would be affected in 
some one member of the body, and sometimes in 
the whole system. When the head alone was 
affected, it would be jerked backward and forward, 
or from side to side, so quickly that the features 
of the face could not be distinguished. When the 
whole system was affected, I have seen the person 
stand in one place, and jerk backward and forward 
in quick succession, the head nearly touching the 
floor behind and before. All classes — saints and 
sinners, the strong as well as the weak — were thus 
affected. I have inquired of those thus affected 
if they could not account for it, but some have 

Methodism in Tennessee. 349 

told me that those were among the happiest sea- 
sons of their lives. I have seen some wicked per- 
sons thus affected, and all the time cursing the 
jerks, while they were thrown to the earth with 
violence. Though so awful to behold. I do not 
remember that any one of the thousands I have 
seen thus affected ever sustained any injur}' in 
body This was as strange as the exercise itself. 

"The dancing exercise generally began with 
the jerks, and was peculiar to professors of re- 
ligion. The subject, after jerking awhile, began 
to dance, and then the jerks would cease. Sudi 
dancing was indeed heavenly to the spectator-. 
There was nothing in it like levity, nor calculated 
to excite levity in the beholders. The smile of 
Heaven shone on the countenance of the subject, 
and assimilated to angels appeared the whole per- 
son. Sometimes the motion was quick, and some- 
times slow Thus thev continued to move for- 
ward and backward, in the same -track or alley, 
till nature seemed exhausted; and they would 
fall prostrate on the floor or earth, unless caught 
by those standing by While thus exercised, I 
have heard their solemn praises and prayers ascend 
to God. 

"The barking exercise, as opposers contempt- 
uously called it, was nothing but the jerks. A 
person affected with the jerks, especially in his 
head, would often make a grunt or a bark, from 

350 Methodism in Tennessee. 

the suddenness of the jerk. This name of bark- 
ing seems to have had its origin from an old Pres- 
byterian preacher of East Tennessee. He had 
gone into the woods for private devotion, and was 
seized with the jerks. Standing near a sapling, 
he caught hold of it to prevent his falling ; and as 
his head jerked back he uttered a grunt, or a kind 
of a noise similar to a bark, his face being turned 
upward. Some wag discovered him in this posi- 
tion, and reported that he had found the old 
preacher barking up a tree. 

'* The laughing exercise was frequent — con- 
fined solelv to the religious. It was a loud, 
heartv laughter, but it excited laughter in none 
that saw it. The subject appeared rapturously 
solemn, and his laughter excited solemnity in 
saints and sinners : it was trulv indescribable ! 

** The running exercise was nothing more than 
that persons feeling something of these bodily 
agitations, through fear, attempted to run away, 
and thus escape from them; but it commonly 
happened that they ran not far before they fell, 
where they became so agitated that they could not 
proceed any farther. 

"I "knew a young physician, of a celebrated 
family, who came some distance to a big meeting 
to see the strange things he had heard of. He 
and a young lady had sportively agreed to watch 
over and take care of each other if either should 

Methodism in Tennessee. 35J 

fall. At length the physician felt something very 
uncommon, and started from the congregation to 
run into the woods. He was discovered running 
as for life, but did not proceed far until he fell 
down, and there lay until he submitted to the Lord, 
and afterward became a zealous member of the 
Church. Such cases were common. 

"The singing exercise is more unaccountable 
than any thing else I ever saw. The subject, in 
a very happy state of mind, would sing most melo- 
diously, not from the mouth or nose, but entirely 
in the breast, the sounds issuing thence. Such 
noise silencld every thing, and attracted the atten- 
tion of all. It was most heavenly ; none could 
ever be tired of hearing it. 

" Thus have I," says Mr. Stone, " given a brief 
!$count of the wonderful things that appeared in 
the great excitement in the beginning of this cen- 
tury. That there were many eccentricities and 
much fanaticism in this excitement, was acknowl- 
edged by its warmest advocates ; indeed, it would 
have been a wonder if such things had not ap- 
peared in the circumstances of that time. Yet 
the good effects were seen and acknowledged in 
every neighborhood, and among the different sects. 
It silenced contention, and promoted unity for 
awhile." * 


JSarly Times in Mid4ie Tennessee, pp, 7(W75. 

352 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Why these unusual visitations were permitted 
to come upon the Church and upon the country 
at this particular time, is a question which perhaps 
cannot be easily answered. So it was, and so sol- 
emn were the scenes connected with these exer- 
cises, that none but the most hardened treated 
them with levity 

This great revival was remarkable in another 
respect : it seemed to bind the hearts of all Chris- 
tians in unity Methodists and Presbyterians, 
especially, labored together with harmony and 
sweet concord, and, as brethren in Christ, had 
one end and one aim — God's glory and man's sal- 

The Rev Lewis Garrett leaves the following 
record, which will be read with interest : 

" The year 1800 was an eventful era in the re- 
ligious history of the Western country — some of 
the events of which we have noticed, particularly 
in relation to Kentucky This year the West, 
which was all comprised in one District, was with- 
out a Presiding 'Elder, and the circuits, which were 
generally large, had but one traveling preacher — 
local preachers were scarce. Nathanael Harris, 
Philip Taylor, and a few others in Kentucky, 
were talented, zealous, and useful men. John Mc- 
Gee in Cumberland was an host. William Burke, 
who then traveled in Kentucky, was popular, 
active, and useful. About the same time that the 


Methodism in Tennessee. 353 

^markable revival commenced in Bourbon county, 
Kentucky, a considerable religious excitement 
took place on Gasper River, under the zealous 
labors of Mr. McGready, a Presbyterian minister. 
About this time, John and William McGee, who 
were brothers— the former a Methodist and the 
latter a Presbyterian preacher — attended a. sacra- 
mental-meeting on Red River. We learn from a 
correct source, that on Sabbath afternoon, the 
session went out to consult whether they should 
invite John McGee to preach. The McGees were 
in the pulpit, and the congregation waiting. John 
McGee became uncommonly impressed, and began 
to exhort the people. The power of God was 
present: many fell prostrate; some shouted: the 
McGees commenced laboring with the convicted. 
The session came, saw, and acknowledged that it 
was the work of God, and joined in to forward 
it. Thus commenced that glorious revival of 
vital religion which spread so widely, extending 
its reforming influence in every direction, raid 
gladdening the hearts of thousands. 

"In the fall of the year 1800, Bishop Asbury 
sent the Rev. William McKendree from Virginia., 
to take charge of the Kentucky District, which 
then, and during the year 1801, embraced the 
whole country west of the Alleghany Mountains, 
from New River in Virginia to the extreme settle- 
ments in what was called Cumberland South-west, 

354 Methodism in Tennessee. 

and what was then called the North-western Ter- 
ritory to Miami and Scioto ; and almost through- 
out this whole region a religious excitement was 
spreading and prevailing — that divine Spirit whose 
office it was and is to reprove and enlighten the 
world, was shedding his heavenly influence, while 
the angel of mercy seemed to hover his benign 
wings over this newly-settled region. 

' ; Such was the state of excited feeling; and so 
anxious were multitudes inquiring the way of 
salvation, that when sacramental or quarterly- 
meetings were appointed, many would go with 
their wagons and carts, and some carry provisions 
on horseback, and remain on the ground for sev- 
eral days, engaged day and night in religious 
exercises. This was the origin of camp-meetings, 
which have been, and still are, so extensively use- 
ful in carrying on the work of God." * 

Mr. Garrett, in the same record, makes the 
following statements, which cannot be read but 
with pain and sorrow Surely the enemy sowed 
evil seed, which sprung up and produced bad 
fruit. He says : 

'" In the year 1800, an astonishing religious 
excitement commenced in Kentucky, which spread 
through all ranks of society, with almost unparal- 
leled rapidity- It took effect with different de- 

* Recollections of the West, pp. 31-33. 

in Tennessee. 355 

laminations of Christians, but the Methodists and 
Presbyterians shared most largely in its fruits. 
A Methodist local preacher, by the name of Ben- 
jamin Northcutt, we have learned, was a consid- 
erable instrument in producing this mighty revival 
of religion. The great meeting at Cane Kidge, 
detailed accounts of which have been published, 
was an extraordinary scene and an astonishing 
display of Almighty power and saving grace. 

" It is not our purpose to go into the details 
of this meeting, or of this revival. There were 
numerous meetings in different parts of Kentucky. 
There seemed to be a simultaneous effort. The 
barriers which had kept different sectaries apart, 
seemed to have given way; non-essential pecu- 
liarities were measurably forgotten; the Presby- 
terians and Methodists particularly preached, and 
prayed, and rejoiced together. The love of 
Christ and souls seemed to be the governing 
principle. These were halcyon days — pleasant 
to behold, glorious in their results, and blessed 
in their enjoyments! But human nature was 
too imperfect, human affairs too complex, and the 
views and interests of men too apt to clash, for 
such a pleasant state of things to be permanent 
Ibis thing of falling down and shouting was a 
little alarming to some who were tenacious of 
order. There was, to be sure, nothing strange 
ift all this to the Methodists ; they had been ac- 

356 Methodism in Tennessee. 

customed to such a work, in other revivals, in da y.* 
gone by The doctrine of a limited atonem 
which had long obtruded itself upon a cons' 
able portion of the community, began to wa •? 
or unpopular, and was ready to vanish awa v 
multitudes, whose hearts God touched, listened 
with delight to a free gospel, which exhibited an 
ample atonement for every soul of man, proposed 
terms of reconciliation to all, and proclaimed to a 
perishing throng, Whosoever will, let him take the 
water of life freely. 

" Jealousies now began to arise. Those who 
had long cherished a strong attachment to certain 
theories, and a certain order of things, took the 
alarm, drew off, and labored to rally the multi- 
tude, and to restore that order of which they 
were tenacious, and that system of doctrines which 
they had been accustomed to hold sacred. But 
some of the clergy, and many of the people, had 
become weary of dull forms, and disgusted with 
the soul-freezing doctrines of absolute, uncondi- 
tional election and reprobation. The consequences 
were, a collision in matters of opinion, and a dis- 
agreement in modes of worship. Some of those 
who had let go their former creeds, were now 
out at sea — not settled in any regular system 
of theology, and consequently the ready prey 
of extravagant and designing theorists. At this 
unhappy moment, and in this unsettled state of 

Methodism in Tennessee. 357 

things, when religious feeling run high, that ex- 
travagant and (as we think) deluded race— the 
Shakers— made their appearance in Kentucky, 
and by a sanctimonious show of piety and zeal, 
drew off several valuable Presbyterian preachers. 
and a number of unwary members, doubtless to 
the great injury of the cause of rational Chris- 
tianity. About this time, another portion seceded 
from the Presbyterians, who were called by differ- 
ent names — such as Marshallites, Stoneites, Schis- 
matics, etc. These affected uncommon zeal — de- 
nounced Confessions of Faith, Church-discipline. 
etc., and were thought to imbibe sentiments derog- 
atory to the character of an Almighty Redeemer, 
and to hold tenets which affected the essentials of 

"But amidst this revival, and these convul- 
sions, in the religious community, the Methodists 
kept on the even tenor of their way — adhering to 
their excellent discipline, and teaching that system 
of doctrine which they had long since learned, and 
which was not only the popular but the useful 
doctrine in the revival." * 

Barton W Stone afterward united with the 
followers of Alexander Campbell, and became a 
zealous advocate of Mr. Campbell's doctrines. 

The reader will bear in mind that the Confer- 

* Recollections of the West, pp. 28-31. 

358 Methodism in Tennessee. 

ence for this year met on the Holston in April. 
This was but a short time before the meeting of 
the General Conference, which convened at Balti- 
more on the 6th of May. The District was left 
without a Presiding Elder; but William Burke, by 
request of Bishop Asbury, attended many of the 
quarterly-meetings. Bishop Asbury intended to 
make some considerable change in the Appoint- 
ment* : he entertained the purpose of leaving 
many of the old preachers, who had been laboring 
in the West, east of the mountains, and of bring- 
ing a new supply from the East to the far West. 
In this he was successful in part, but only in 
part. In the meantime, Richard Whatcoat was 
elected Bishop to aid Bishop Asbury in his arduous 
work. The two oftentimes traveled together. It 
was so during this year, subsequent to the ad- 
journment of the General Conference. They 
came into Kentucky and held a Conference at 
Bethel in October, being the second this year, 
From that time forward the Conference met in 
the fall season instead of the spring, as heretofore. 
We copy the entire Minutes, as given in the 
Bishop's Journal : 

"Journal of the Western Annual Conference, 
held at Bethel Academy, Kentucky, October 6, 
1800. Members present: Francis Asbury, Rich- 
ard Whatcoat, William McKendree, William Burke, 

Methodism in Tennessee, 359 

John Sale, Hezekiah Harriman, Benjamin Lakin; 
readmitted, Lewis Hunt, Thomas Allen, and Jere- 
miah Lawson. 

" Who are admitted on trial ? 

"Answer. William Marsh, Benjamin Young. 

" What local preachers are elected to the office 
of deacons ? 

"Answer. Richard Tilton, Edward Talbot, Wil- 
liam Thompson, Isaac Pavey, Reuben Hunt, 
Elisha Bowman, Jacob James, A. Blackman, 
Jonathan Kidwell, Benjamin North cutt, Joshua 
West, James Garner, Jesse Griffith, Philip Taylor. 

" Who have located this year ? 

"Answer. Thomas Allen. 

" Benjamin Lakin, Jeremiah Lawson, Lewis 
Hunt, and Thomas Allen ordained to the office of 

" The preachers' deficiencies for six months are 
as follows : William Burke, £2 17s. 6d. ; Heze- 
kiah Harriman, £7 19s. Od; John Sale, £6 16s. 6d.; 
Lewis Hunt, £0 18s. 2d.; Jeremiah Lawson, 
£5 15s. 5d. ; Benjamin Young, £3 5s. 6d. ; Thomas 
Allen, £11 2s. Od. Total, £38 14s. 3d. 

" Conference adjourned to meet again at Ebene- 
zer, State of Tennessee, October 1, 1801. 

"Test, F Asbury. 

" William Burke, Secretary " - 

From this Conference the Bishop extended his 

360 Methodism in Tennessee. 

journey into Tennessee. We copy again from his 
Journal : 

" On the 16th of October, he enters the State 
of Tennessee, and the 18th, he preached at Par- 
ker's, where he was met by ' Brothers McGee, 
Sugg, Jones, and Speer, local preachers,' and 
'had a small shout in the camp of Israel.' On 
the 19th he looked upon Nashville for the first 
time, and met a congregation of ' not less than one 
thousand in and out of the Stone Church,' to whom 
sermons were preached by ' Mr. McKendree, 
Bishop Whatcoat, and himself, the services lasting 
three hours.' On the following day we find him 
at e Drake's Creek Meeting-house, at the close of 
a sacramental solemnity that had been held four 
days by Craighead, Hodge, Rankin, McGee, and 
Adair, Presbyterian ministers, at which sermons 
were preached by McKendree, Whatcoat, and 
himself.' On that day and night following, he 
enjoyed the privilege of mingling ' with scenes of 
deepest interest.' The great revival, to which we 
have so frequently referred, was now in its zenith, 
in Tennessee and Southern Kentucky The vast 
assemblies that attended the preaching of the 
gospel could not be accommodated in any of the 
churches. At this meeting 6 the stand was in the 
open air, embosomed in a wood of lofty beech- 

Tuesday, Oct oh er 21. — Yesterday, and espe- 

a c 

Methodism in Tennessee. 361 

cially during the night, were witnessed scenes of 
deep interest. In the intervals between preach- 
ing the people refreshed themselves and horses, 
and returned upon the ground. The stand was in 
the open air, embosomed in a wood of lofty beech- 
trees. The ministers of God, Methodists and 
Presbyterians, united their labors, and mingled 
with the child-like simplicity of primitive times 
Fires blazing here and there, dispelled the dark- 
ness, and the shouts of the redeemed captives, 
and the cries of precious souls struggling into life, 
broke the silence of midnight. The weather was 
delightful; as if heaven smiled, whilst mercy 
flowed in abundant streams of salvation to per- 
ishing sinners. We suppose there were at least 
thirtv souls converted at this meeting. I rejoice 
that God is visiting the sons of the Puritans, who 
are candid enough to acknowledge their obligations 
to the Methodists.' " * 

Here we see for the first time the name of 
William McKendree in connection with the work 
in Tennessee. 

* Bedford's Methodism in Kentucky, Vol. I., pp. 334, 335. 

VOL. I. — 16 

382 Methodism in Tennessee, 


A new era in the West — Name of the Conference changed 
from Kentucky to that of " Western Conference " — Two 
sessions held this year — McKendree's District — He com- 
petent to fill it — A sketch of William McKendree — His 
election to the office of Bishop — His labors — His last 
Conference — Last sermon — Death, burial, and epitaph — - 
The Gower family. 

"The Conference - year of 1801 commenced a 
new era in the West. Mr. Asbmy changed the 
name of the Conference from that of Kentucky to 
that of the Western Conference, which embraced 
all the Western country then occupied by the 
Methodists, and William McKendree was ap- 
pointed Presiding Elder." 

It seems, according to the General Minutes, 
that there were two Conferences this year — one 
"at Holston, May 1, 1801," and the other "at 
Ebenezer, in Tennessee, October 1, 1801." From 
the best authority* available, neither Bishop 
Asbury nor Bishop Whatcoat attended the May 
Conference, but Bishop Asbury was present at 
the Ebenezer Conference in October, and con- 

* William Burke. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 363 

firmed the Appointments of May- Ebenezer was 
in Greene county. East Tennessee. See the fol- 
lowing entry from Bishop Asbury's Journal : 

" Our brethren in Kentucky did not attend : 
they pleaded the greatness of the work of God. 
Twelve of us sat in Conference three days ; and 
we had not an unpleasant countenance, nor did 
we hear an angry word. And why should it 
not always be thus? Are we not the minis- 
ters of the meek and lowly, the humble and holy 
Jesus ? 

"N. Snethen gave us two sermons. We or- 
dained on Friday ', Saturday, and Sabbath-day, and. 
upon each day I improved a little on the duties 
of ministers. On the Lord's-day we assembled 
in the woods, and made a large congregation. 
My subject was Isaiah lxii. 1. On Friday and 
Saturday evenings, and on Sabbath morning, there 
was the noise of praise and shouting in the meet- 
ing-house. It is thought there are twenty-five 
souls who have found the Lord : they are chiefly 
the children of Methodists — the children of faith 
and of many prayers." 

The Appointments were as follows : 

Kentucky District. — William McKendree, P. 
E. ; Scioto and Miami, Henry Smith ; Limestone, 
Benjamin Lakin ; Hinkstone and Lexington, Wil- 
liam Burke, Thomas Wilkerson, Lewis Hunt; 
Danville. Hezekiah Harriman; Salt River and 

364 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Shelby, John Sale, William Marsh ; Cumberland, 
John Page, Benjamin Young; Green, Samuel 
Douthet, Ezekiel Burdine ; Holston and Russell, 
James Hunter ; New River, John Watson. 

As there is some confusion here in the dates, 
it is likely that the following explanation by Dr. 
McAnally, in his Sketches of Methodism in Hol- 
ston, may be correct : 

"After spending some time in the Carolinas, 
the Bishop took a jaunt eastward, through Vir- 
ginia, then on to Maryland, Pennsylvania, and 
Delaware ; then back, through Maryland and the 
Valley of Virginia, to the Holston country After 
crossing New River, at Pepper's Ferry, he passed 
through parts of Wythe, Tazewell, Washington, 
Russell, and Scott counties, Virginia, and to 
Ebenezer Meeting-house, in Greene county, Ten- 
nessee, to hold the Conference. This was in 
October of that year (1801). A Conference had 
been appointed, and was most likely held, in May 
preceding this ; and a little explanation may be 
necessary, just here, in order to prevent mis- 
takes. In the General Minutes for 1801, it is 
stated that no reports of numbers had been re- 
ceived from Tennessee or Kentucky Now the 
annual round of Conferences for that year com- 
menced with the South Carolina, January 1st, 
and ended with the New England Conference, 
which began, -according to appointment, July 17. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 365 

1801; so that the Annual Minutes were, most 
likely, published some time between the last of 
July and the 1st of October, of this year ; and 
when the publishers say that there were no re- 
turns, they must have had reference to the Con- 
ference held in May; and the preachers then 
appointed to the several circuits, traveled from 
May until October, only Then, when Bishop 
Asbuiy came on, and held the Conference at 
Ebenezer, in October, 1801, he reappointed the 
preachers who remained on the appointments 
then given, until the Conference held in the Cum- 
berland country, in October, 1802 ; and the 
returns made at the Ebenezer Conference, in 
1801, appear" in the General Minutes of 1802. 
The Bishop did not attend the Conference in 
May, and his annual round for 1802 commenced 
at Ebenezer, in October, 1801, and ended with 
the New England Conference, held in the Prov- 
ince of Maine, July 1, 1802." 

Mr. McKendree's District was extensive, em- 
bracing East and Middle Tennessee, South-western 
Virginia, Kentucky, and a portion of Ohio. But 
no man would be more likely to cultivate the 
whole field than William McKendree. He was 
in the vigor of manhood, active and full of energy; 
unencumbered, having no family, no secular pur- 
suits, and above all, constrained by the love of 
Christ. His superior talents, his fine pulpit abili- 

366 Methodism in Tennessee* 

tiesj his pleasing address, and/ his excellent ad* 
ministrative qualities admirably suited hun to the 
field he was to occupy. 

Mr. McKenaree was a native of Virginia^ bora 
in King William county, July 6, 1757 He was " 
converted at &bout the age of thirty, and soon 
afterward entered the traveling connection. He 
labored in Virginia, Maryland, and the Ca^olinas, 
for about twelve years, and then, as we have 
seen, he was transferred to the West, and put in 
charge of the new and very inviting field .which 
has already been described. He arrived in the 
West during the year 1800, just at the time when* , 
the " great revival " began to assume very inter- 
esting and promising features. Mr. McKendtee 
at once entered into the work, and was one of the 
most efficient laborers in the Master's vineyard. 
The Hon. John McLean, in preparing a sketch 
for Dr. Sprague's Annals, says t of Mr. McKen- 
dree, that he had scarcely returned to his friends - 
in his old District, in Virginia, when "Bishops 
Asbury and Whatcoat passed through his Dis- 
trict, on their way to visit the Conference and cn> 
cuits west of the Alleghany Mountains. Mr. Poy- 
thress, who was in charge of the Kentucky District, 
had become so infirm as to be unable any longer to 
labor, and the Bishops had selected Mr. McKen- 
dree to take charge of this important field. As 
soon as they had stated to him their views, he srg- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 367 

nified his hearty concurrence in them ; and, within 
three hours, he had actually started off with them 
on the journey. They made their way first to the 
State of Tennessee, and, having reached the sta- 
tion on the outskirts of the settlements, and there 
taken some others into their company, they pro- 
ceeded to Jessamine county in Kentucky, where 
they arrived about the last of September, 1800. 
The two Bishops were well-nigh exhausted by the 
journey ; but the young men performed it without 
any signs o f faltering. 

" The Western Conference for the year 1800 
was held about the 1st of October, in the Bethel 
Academy in Kentucky ; and the number of travel- 
ing preachers who were present, including the two 
Bishops, was ten. Immediately after the adjourn- 
ment of Conference, the Bishops, Mr. McKendree, 
and the preachers whose work lay along this 
route, made it their business to visit the greater 
portion of the societies. After stopping a little at 
Nashville, the capital of Tennessee — at which 
place they came in contact for the first time with 
a camp -meeting — they proceeded to Knoxville, 
and there parted — the Bishops to attend the Car- 
olina Conferences, and McKendree to commence 
his routine of quarterly visitation. His first year 
in Kentucky was one of great labor and great suc- 
cess; and not a small part of what he accom- 
plished was in connection with camp - meetings, 

368 Methodism in Tennessee. 

in which other denominations besides the Method- 
ists freely mingled." 

In Bedford's History of Methodism in Ken- 
tucky will be found a glowing description of the 
labors of Mr. McKendree, from which we make 
the following extracts : 

" Mr. McKendree entered upon the work in 
the West at a most propitious period. The 
6 great revival ' in Kentucky and Tennessee 
had commenced previous to his appointment to 
this District; and at the time he entered upon 
his labors, ' throughout this whole region a re- 
ligious excitement was spreading and prevailing.' 
After attending the session of the Conference at 
Bethel, he passed through a considerable portion 
of Kentucky, in company with Bishops Asbury 
and Whatcoat, reviewing this section of his field 
of labor, preaching with extraordinary fervor, and 
bringing the wealth of his princely intellect, and 
of his tireless energy, and laying all upon the altar 
of the Church. 

" We soon find him in attendance at a Presby- 
terian meeting ' at Drake's Creek Meeting-house,' 
in Tennessee, where a revival was in progress, 
and preaching from Jeremiah iv 14 : ' Jeru- 
salem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that 
thou* may est be saved. How long shall thy 
vain thoughts lodge within thee ?' In company 

Methodism in Tennessee. 369 

with Bishops Asbury and Whatcoat, and those 
faithful evangelists, John and William McGee, he 
wends his way toward East Tennessee, c preaching' 
and ' exhorting ' to listening thousands, all along 
his route. 

" Traveling his vast District, he ( had been but 
a few months on the ground till he understood 
perfectly his field of labor, moving day and night, 
visiting families, organizing societies, and holding 
Quarterly Conferences. It was his constant prac- 
tice to travel from thirty to fifty miles a day, and 
preach at night. All classes of people flocked to 
hear him. Statesmen, lawyers, doctors, and theo- 
logians, of all denominations, clustered around 
him, saying, as they returned home, "Did you 
ever hear the like before ?" Some, indeed, were 
so captivated, that they would say, " Never man 
spake like this man." He saw that the harvest 
was truly great, and the laborers few Early in 
the morning and late in the evening, with streaming 
eyes, he prayed God, with hands and heart up- 
lifted, that he would send forth more laborers into 
the harvest. 

"'He was actively engaged in forming new 
circuits, and calling out local preachers to fill 
them. Whenever he found a young man of piety 
and native talent, he led him out into the Lord's 
vineyard; and large as his District was, it soon 
became too small for him. He extended his 

370 Methodism in Tennessee. 

labors to every part of South-western Virginia ; 
then crossing the Ohio River, he carried the holy 
war into the State of Ohio ; and there he formed 
new charges, and called out young men. Like a 
noble general, he was always in the first ranks. 
Throughout the length and breadth of the West, 
as far as the country was settled, McKendree 
was first in council and first in action. If he 
appeared on a camp -ground, every eye was upon 
him, and his word was law- In private circles, in 
Quarterly Conferences, he was the master spirit.' * 
" We have already referred to Mr. McKendree 
as being an active participant, immediately on 
his entrance on the labors of his District, in the 
revival of religion that distinguished this period. 
In passing through his. vast District, he carried 
with him a holy influence, which, like a ' flame of 
fire,' spread in every direction. No difficulty 
could daunt this soldier of the cross. ' He led 
his band of tried men — and a nobler band of 
Christian heroes never lived than those who 
flocked around the standard that was borne in 
triumph by William McKendree.' f True, some- 
times he was depressed, for he was mortal ; but, 
nothing daunted, he moved with steady and resist- 
less step, an example of labor and piety among 

* "Autobiography of the Rev. Jacob Young, pp. 61, 62. 
f " Rev. A. L. P. Green, D.D. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 371 

his brethren. Deep streams could not divert him 
from his course ; high mountains presented no 
barrier; the rains of summer and the snows of 
winter alike unmoved him. Often he swam the 
turbid stream to reach the appointments he had 
made ; and many a time, after a long day's travel, 
he lay out in the woods at night, hungry and cold, 
with no other covering than his clothes and saddle- 
blanket, except the blue sky above him. 

" The first to bear to the northern and central 
portions of Kentucky the intelligence of the re- 
vivals in the southern part of the State, he mingled 
freely in them. In the pulpit, in the altar, in the 
family circle, by his counsel and bright Christian 
example, he exerted an influence for good that 
cannot now be estimated. We find him side by 
side with the pious Burke 'in the contests' he 
had with the ministry of the Baptist Church ; and 
in the defense of the great cardinal doctrines and 
principles of Methodism, he stood forth the un- 
flinching advocate. Under his supervision many 
of the early church-edifices were erected;* and 
under his ministry the Kentucky District enjoyed 
continual prosperity 

" We next find him on the Cumberland District, 

* " The Brick Chapel, four miles north-east of Shelby ville, 
was erected under his direction. It was the second brick 
church in Kentucky. 


72 Methodism in Tennessee. 

embracing < nine circuits, one of which was in 
Missouri. He traveled from Nashville, Tennessee, 
through Kentucky and Illinois, to Missouri, a dis- 
tance of fifteen hundred miles, in order to pass 
round and through his District. Into this new and 
extensive field of labor he entered spiritedly, and 
was everywhere hailed as an able minister of the 
New Testament. Here he was the honored instru- 
ment, in connection with the worthy men who 
labored side by side with him, though under his 
superintendeney, of laying, as a wise master- 
builder, the foundation of the Church which has 
since so gloriously prospered in this country'* 

" The same success that crowned his ministry 
on the Kentucky District followed his labors in 
this invithiff field. Dancers, however, often threat- 
ened him, and difficulties that could only be over- 
come by inflexibility of purpose often opposed 

Mr. McKendree continued in the West as a 
Presiding Elder till the year 1S08 : that year he 
was on the Cumberland District, which extended 
from the country about Nashville to the Cumber- 
land Mountains, in Tennessee and Kentucky, 
thence across the State of Kentucky into Illinois 
and Missouri. At the General Conference of this 

* " Kev. W W Redman, in Nashville Christian Advocate, 
February 26, 1847. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 373 

year, held at Baltimore, he was elected Bishop, 
and was ordained to that responsible office. The 
selection was a wise one, and proved to be a great 
blessing to the Church. True, Mr. McKendree 
was somewhat advanced in years, having passed 
fifty ; but he had had twenty years' experience as 
a preacher, was without a family, had a good con- 
stitution, was active and vigorous, and had been 
accustomed to arduous toil as an itinerant. 

Bishop Whatcoat had died, Bishop Asbury was 
aged and infirm, Bishop Coke was in Europe, the 
Church was enlarging, the Conferences multiply- 
ing, and the demand for Episcopal duties growing 
more and more imperative. To have put into the 
office a young and unsettled man, might have led 
to fatal consequences ; to have ordained one who 
had local views or local attachments, might have 
seriously embarrassed the work ; but here was a 
sound man, a tried man, a mature man, a working 
man, a man who had endured the hardships of a 
frontier life, and knew how to sympathize with 
his fellow-itinerants, a man who would not only 
point out the work to be done, but would himself 
lead the way. 

Mr. McKendree, for eight years previous to 
his election, had been in the " far West." There 
had been but little intercourse with the East: 
there were no macadamized roads, no great stage 
routes, no railroads, no telegraph lines, and but 


74 Methodism in Tennessee. 

few postal routes, no Church papers to herald the 
magnates of the pulpit ; hence the body of the 
preachers east of the mountains had but a slight 
acquaintance with the Western pioneers. When 
Mr. McKendree reached the General Conference 
at Baltimore, it is not probable that he had been 
thought of as a bishop. He was appointed to 
preach on the Sabbath at Light Street Church. 
Many of the delegates were present. The sermon 
was in poAver : it was a masterly effort, and pro- 
duced a great sensation. Bishop Asbury, who was 
present, remarked, as he left the church, " That 
sermon will make him a bishop ;" and so it did. 
He was soon afterward elected — receiving ninety- 
five votes out of one hundred and twenty-eight. 

From the time of his election till his physical 
frame gave way, he ceased not to labor night and 
day for the glory of God and the interests of the 
Church. The principal burden rested upon his 
shoulders, especially from 1812 to 1816. Bishop 
Asbury had worn himself down by his constant 
and arduous toils for half a century, and during 
this term of four years had fallen asleep in Jesus. 
This left the whole care and responsibility of the 
office upon Bishop McKendree. He faltered not, 
but proved himself, under God, equal to the task, 
and like a brave general in the field, when all his 
equals in rank had fallen, he still pressed forward 
and pushed the battle to the gate. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 375 

After his election, Bishop McKendree called 
Tennessee his home, or his place of rendezvous, 
His father's family had removed to the State, and 
settled near Fountain Head, in Sumner county 
Here the Bishop deposited whatever was not 
necessary in his journey ings ; and here, at the 
house of his brother — Dr. James McKendree — 
he died, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, on 
the 5th of March, 1835, in his seventy-eighth year, 
uttering, as his last words, " All is well ! All 
is well !" and was buried, at his own request, in 
the family graveyard, beside his father, near the 
family dwelling, where he sleeps among his kin- 
dred. His grave was desecrated in the late war, 
and now lies in ruins ; but measures have been 
taken to repair the inclosure, or erect on his 
grave a monumental church. 

His epitaph, rudely executed, is as follows : 



Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church In the 

United State of America 

Born King William County Virginia July 6th 1757 

Died at his Brothers Dr James McKendrees 

In Sumner County Ten. March 5th 1835 

He was elected and ordained Bishop 

In the city of Baltimore. May 1808 

He laboured in the ministry of the gospel 47 years 

With uncommon zeal ability and usefulness. 

And for near 27 years discharged the duties 

376 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Of the episcopal office with such wisdom 
Rectitude fidelity as to secure the 
Confidence respect and esteem of the 
Ministers and people of his official 
Oversight in travels and labors for 
The advancement of the Redeemers 
Kingdom and the Salvation of the 
Souls of men. He occupied an elevated 
Position among the most eminent ministers 
Of Christ and has furnished an illustrious 
Example for christian pastors and Bishops 
He finished his course in peace and triumph 
Proclaiming in his last moments 
'All is well' 

The last Annual Conference he attended was 
held at Lebanon, Tennessee, in November, 1834. 
The last sermon he ever preached was on the 23d 
of the same month, in McKendree Church, Nash- 
ville. The funeral services were conducted by 
the Rev. John Kelley and the Rev. Henry K. 

The work of 1801, in which Mr. McKendree 
took so active a part, and which spread over a 
vast extent of country, the fruits of which remain 
till this day, deserves more than a passing remark. 
The extraordinary manifestations of the power of 
God, in the awakening and conversion of sinners, 
w T as marvelous in the eyes of the people. As has 
been said, there were no extra efforts, no special 
human instrumentality There was perhaps an 
increased earnestness among the preachers, and, in 

Methodism in Tennessee. 377 

some degree, a quickening of their zeal ; but these 
were not so marked as to attract public attention. 
Indeed, there seems to have been a degree of 
lukewarmness among professed Christians, nncl a 
deep tincture of skepticism, not to say downright 
infidelity, among the people. There had been 
but little progress, as the facts and figures ad- 
duced in these pages show For nearly twenty 
years a faithful and self-sacrificing ministry had 
warned the people. The preachers had been with 
the people in the wilderness, in the forts, in the 
block-houses, in the bloody wars, and in their more 
peaceful and prosperous times ; and although hun- 
dreds had been w T on to Christ, and many had died 
in the faith, yet their success had been partial. 
The people were callous, and the Church-members 
were formal. Many ministers, in respectable 
Churches, were mere formalists, being strangers to 
the new birth. They knew nothing of the power 
of godliness, nor had they any proper conception 
of justification by faith and the witness of the 
Spirit. The country had for years been excited 
by wars : a comparative calm had ensued, and the 
inhabitants felt secure ; the population had greatly 
increased, and the people felt strong ; the soil was 
fertile, and almost fabulously productive, so that 
there was no fear of want ; the men were brave 
and hardy, and the women resolute and fearless. 
In this condition, a listless, indifferent spirit had 

378 Methodism in Tennessee. 

seized the people, and it required something more 
than common to arouse them. God, in his mercy, 
sent this revival spirit. Under its power infidel- 
ity quailed, skepticism blushed, formal professors 
trembled, and sinners cried for mercy The wind 
passed over the valley of dry bones, and there 
was a noise and a shaking, and bones came to- 
gether, bone to its bone ; the sinews and flesh 
came upon them, and the skin covered them, and 
the breath of the Almighty entered into them, 
and they lived and stood up a great army before 

From that day Methodism grew stronger, its 
doctrines more popular, and its influence much 
greater, upon all classes of society Those who 
had persecuted the Methodists, and branded them 
as false teachers and as the deceivers who should 
come in the last times, now became their friends 
and co-workers in the kingdom and patience of 
Jesus Christ. In a word, it was a triumph of 
pure, scriptural, genuine Christianity, over infidel- 
ity and formal religion. 

Samuel Douthet, who was appointed this year 
to the Green Circuit, traveled the Holston Circuit 
in 1802. In 1803, he was on the Lexington Cir- 
cuit; in 1804, he was on the Nolichucky Circuit, 
and in 1805 he located. Benjamin Young, after 
leaving Cumberland, traveled in Ohio, was a mis- 
sionary to Illinois, and in 1804 was on the Green 

Methodism in Tennessee. 379 

Circuit. The Minutes of 1805 say he was ex- 
pelled: the cause is not given. There was no 
return of members this year, the statistics being 
the same as the year previous. The reason for 
this omission may be inferred from Bishop As- 
bury's Journal. He says : " The brethren from the 
West were not present : the work was so extra- 
ordinary as to demand their attention." And, 
besides, prior to this time the Conferences had been 
held in the spring ; now they were being changed 
to the autumn, and they could not well be absent 
at two sessions in one year. 

Before concluding this chapter, it is proper that 
reference be made to the Gower family, who were 
ifearly settlers in Tennessee, and connected them- 
selves with the Methodists at an early period. 

Abel Gower came to Tennessee in 1778, with 
the family of General Robertson. He had a wife 
and five sons and four daughters. One son was 
shot and killed on the way; a daughter was 
wounded, but she recovered. Three of the broth- 
ers — Russell, Elisha, and William — professed re- 
ligion and united with the Methodists in 1801. 
They all became preachers within one year after 
their conversion. Abel Gower and Elisha, his 
son, were murdered by the Indians a few years 
after they came to Tennessee. They were killed 
while bringing corn from the mouth of Stone's 
River to Nashville. 

380 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Russell Gower settled on the^ Cumberland 
River, at what is called Gower's Island. He 
served the Church as a local preacher for thirty 
years. Elisha also settled on the Cumberland 
River, north side, at Gower's Island. He con- 
tinued to labor as a local preacher for forty years. 
Thes-e brothers both brought up large families, all 
of whom became members of the Methodist Church. 
One of Russell's sons is now a Baptist preacher. 

William Gower settled on the south side of the 
Cumberland, not far from the island, and about 
nine miles from Nashville, in the year 1800. He 
was born on the 6th of October, 1776 ; twenty- 
four vears afterward, he was married to Char- 
lotte Reeves, niece of Mrs. General Robertson. 
Soon after he professed religion he began to ex- 
hort ; indeed, he began forthwith to call sinners to 
repentance, and was immediately licensed. In a 
short space of time, as has been seen, he was 
licensed to preach, and continued for half a cen- 
tury to toil as a minister of Christ. He died on 
the 11th of October, 1851. 

William Gower's house was a preaching-place 
for thirty years. There is now a church on his 
land, known as Gower's Chapel. There has been 
a Church-organization for more than half a century 
in that neighborhood. Some of the descendants 
of this venerable man are pillars in the Church at 
this day 

Methodism in Tennessee. 381 


Western Conference, at Strother's, Tennessee : Bishop A.s- 
bury present — Mr. Garrett's account — Increase in the 
membership — Kentucky District — Holston District — 
Moses Floyd — John A. Granade: extracts from his 
Autobiography — His grandson — Mr. Carr's account of 

" The Western Conference was held in Tennes- 
see, at Cumberland, Oct. 2, 1802." Such is the 
record of the Minutes. 

The place of meeting was Strother's Meeting- 
house, near the head of Big Station Camp Creek, 
in Sumner county, north-west of where the town 
of Gallatin now stands. 

The Rev- Lewis Garrett says Bishop Asbury 
was present, " but was so afflicted with rheumatic 
affection that he could not walk ; yet he traveled 
thus far west, attended to the business of the 
Conference, and preached, while he had to be car- 
ried to and from his horse, and to the house of 
business and of worship." The reader will bear 
in mind that the ecclesiastical year for 1803 began 
in October, 1802. Without noting this fact, he 
is liable to be led astray as to dates. In the 
Minutes, the year now under consideration bears 

382 Methodism in Tennessee. 

date 1802, but it extends over to October, 1803. 
This was the first Annual Conference held in what 
we now call Middle Tennessee. 

This year was one of great success ; hence we 
find a very handsome increase in the membership. 
The returns were :~On Cumberland, 588 whites, 
39 colored; Green, 610 whites, 30 colored. la 
the appointments of the preachers the work is re- 
arranged, and two Districts are formed out of the 
territory heretofore occupied by one. 

The Kentucky District embraced Cumberland 
Circuit : William McKendree, Presiding Elder, 
and John Page and Thomas Wilkerson were on 
the circuit. 

Holston District : John Watson, Presiding El- 
der. Green Circuit : Moses Floyd and John A. 

The Cumberland Circuit was nobly supplied, 
having two very able and successful preachers. 
These, with Mr. McKendree on the District, made 
a trio inferior to none in the Church, anywhere, 
at that day 

Moses Floyd was the next year sent to Natch- 
ez, where he remained two years. In 1805 he 

John Adam Granade was this year admitted on 
trial, and was, as we have seen, appointed to the 
Green Circuit. Mr. Granade was an extraordi- 
nary man, whose life and history are more singu- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 383 

lar and exciting than romance. His career as a 
traveling preacher was short, but full of interest. 
He was a great power in the pulpit. He has a 
grandson — the Kev. Herve M. Granade — now in 
the ministry, and a worthy member of the Arkan- 
sas Conference. He has kindly furnished the 
author with copious extracts from the Journal or 
Autobiography of his grandfather, which we in- 
sert. These extracts have never heretofore been 
published. They will be read with interest, and 
will give an insight into the character of the ec- 
centric preacher, who created a great sensation in 
his day 



At your request, I will give you some items in 
the history of my grandfather, the eccentric John 
A. Granade, one of the preachers in the great 
revival of the early part of this century As he 
died many years ago — even before my father (his 
son) was born — I am dependent wholly on a 
manuscript Autobiography of his, now in my pos- 
session, which is of course good authority Some 
sketches of this strange man may be found in 
John Carr's Early Times in Middle Tennessee, 
also in Finlev's Sketches of Western Methodism. 

Mr. Granade's ancestors were from France, but 
at the time the subject of this sketch lived, I think 
he was the onlv male bv the name on this conti-* 

384 Methodism in Tennessee. 

nent. He was born near Newbern, in Jones 
county, North Carolina, May 9, 17 — . By a 
most pious mother he was early taught the fear 
of God. At thirteen years of age, after a series 
of extraordinary exercises of mind, he embraced 
religion. He, however, soon backslid, and devoted 
his poetic talent and all his energies to the service 
of Satan. He says : " It grieved me if I heard a 
song sung which caused more laugh than mine, 
and I would, not rest day nor night until I com- 
posed one that exceeded it. Although I had no 
relish for drinking, quarreling, and fighting, I 
have spent seven days and nights, without giving 
myself but very little rest, in dancing and frol- 

" In rambling and gambling I took great delight, 
My heart o'erflowing with evil, 
Gallanting and ranting from morning till night, 
" And often rode post for the devil." 

But, through much folly and sin, and many 
fearful dangers, which he relates in a thrilling 
manner, he was spared. Becoming perfectly 
reckless, about the time he was grown, in 1796, 
he made a rambling journey through Kentucky 
and Cumberland, returning in the fall, however, to 
find that he had brought his pious mother's "gray 
hairs in sorrow to the grave." Soon, however, 
terrified by a guilty conscience, "he left North 
Carolina, and went west to Anson county, and 

Methodism in Tennessee. 385 

taught school across the line in Chesterfield county, 
in the South State." Endeavoring to steady him- 
self and keep good company, he remained here, in 
the vicinity of Wadesboro, and taught several 
sessions. So hard did he strive to please his 
patrons, and so well did he succeed, that pupils 
were taken from the Camden Academy, and by 
letter committed to his care. 

On the 9th of May, 1797, President Adams 
proclaimed a Fast-day for the nation, in which 
Mr. Granade did not participate, because he was 
prejudiced against him and his administration; 
but, remembering afterward that it was his own 
birthday, he regretted that he had not fasted. On 
the 16th of the same month began that wonderful 
revolution in his mind, to which he devotes much 
of his Journal, and to which no pen but his own 
can do justice. 

Reading in a newspaper of the difficulties be- 
tween the United States and France, and the prob- 
abilities of a war, he burned with patriotic deter- 
mination to defend his native land, America. The 
idea of being a soldier brought thoughts of death, 
and induced self-examination, and soon he was 
plunged into awful conflicts with Satan. So ter- 
rible was his mental agony, and so wonderfully 
did the Spirit strive with him, that he says : " I 
became a gazing-stock to Major Rosser's family, 
where I boarded, to my pupils, and to my wicked 
VOL. i. — 17 

386 Methodism in Tennessee. 

companions. My loud threats and harsh rebukes 
gave way to sympathy and love, the brow of brass 
was covered with shame, the inflexible counte- 
nance was bedewed with tears. Ashamed that 
my pupils should see me weep, I fled to the woods; 
and as I went, a powerful sensation of the suffer- 
ings of Christ was presented to my mind. 

" Thus the glorious Sufferer stood, 
With hands and feet nailed to the wood, 
From every wound a stream of blood, 

Came trickling down amain. 
His bitter groans all nature shook, 
And at his voice the rocks were broke ; 
And sleeping saints their graves forsook, 
While spiteful Jews around him mock, 

And laughed at his pain. 

" I felt," says he farther, " that I had joined in 
with the Jews and Romans, and cried, ' Crucify 
him ! crucify him !' " 

While subject to great buffetings from Satan, 
and longing for some Christian friend, Mr. Pace, 
a Justice of Anson county, and a Methodist, 
came by, whom he called, and to whom he un- 
folded the deep troubles of his stricken heart. 
Mr. Pace carried him to Mr. Hill, a local Meth- 
odist preacher, and they took great pains, by 
advice and prayer, to aid him. Determined to 
take every advantage of the devil, he burned his 
cards, and with his penknife cut the ruffles off his 
shirt, and had his hair, of which he had been very 

Methodism in Tennessee. 387 

proud, cut off. He began to go to the meetings 
of the Methodists, and sought every opportunity 
to receive their counsels and prayers. His dis- 
tress was so great that he gave up his school, and, 
joining in with a brother-in-law, (Sanderson, I 
suppose,) he set out for Georgia. He says : 

" I then was like the lonesome dove 
That mourns her absent mate, 
From hill to hill, from vale to vale, 
Her sorrows to relate." 

Just as he was leaving Carolina, the Universal- 
ists tried to get him to travel and preach in sup- 
port of their system, which he had some time 
before embraced ; but they found him crying for 
God's mercy He told them that he renounced a 
poem which he had composed, and which they 
had published ; and denounced the whole system 
of "Restoration" as "a stratagem of the devil to 
bring souls to eternal ruin." 

Instead of remaining in Augusta, Georgia, Mr. 
Granacle, with his company, turned about and 
came to Tennessee. Through this long, weari- 
some journey he had much to try his patience ; 
but still, four times a day, he went to God in 
secret prayer. His account of his feelings on this 
trip is thrilling indeed. 

" At length," says he, in his Journal, " after 
much fatigue and travel, we encamped on Goose 
Creek, in Sumner county, Tennessee. Soon after 

388 Methodism in Tennessee. 

my arrival in Tennessee, I went to class-meeting 
at old Brother Greenhaw's, who was long a Zion 
traveler, and was then a leader of a class. I that 
day cast in my lot with the people called Method- 
ists. I took courage, and stood up in the congre- 
gation and exhorted the people. A few days 
after, I went to Brother Oglesby's, where I met 
with William Burke, who was then traveling the 
Cumberland Circuit. He was a man of excellent 
abilities and good delivery. I rode with him, 
telling him my sorrows, in which he took great 
interest, and advised me to press on. In com- 
pan}' with John MeGee, a local preacher, and a 
precious man, I went next day south of the Cum- 
berland River to hear Mr. Burke preach; but 
Brother McGee's account of his own conversion 
so filled me with distress and anxiety, that the 
sermon did me but little good. That evening I 
returned to our camp, with a double resolution 
never to rest until God converted me. I told my 
sister I thought we ought to have prayer morning 
and evening at our camp. Now, at this time, as 
for some time past, there was only a small light, 
like a little star, before the eye of my faith, that 
shone as a light in a dark place. I was sometimes 
hopeful, and sometimes in despair ; sometimes I 
could see in my mind congregations before me, 
and I was preaching to them with great zeal ; but 
Satan continued his attacks, and I was driven to 

Methodism in Tennessee. 389 

the woods, resolved not to return until God sent 
deliverance. I went to the chasm of a rock, on 
the side of Goose Creek, where the water made a 
great noise, that my loud prayers and lamenta- 
tions (for I always prayed' aloud) might not be 
heard. I felt as if I was rowing up a stream, the 
wind (God's Spirit) in my favor, and if I ceased 
to ply either oar (faith and prayer) I would go 
down immediately The two oars at last being 
brought to act in concert, I made headway I 
returned to the camp. My sister stood by me 
singing, when the glory of the Lord broke in upon 
me, c sweeter than the honey, or the honeycomb/ 

" This portion of grace to me given 

Dispelled the black cloud from my eyes. 
It was a sweet foretaste of heaven, 
Descending from Christ in the skies. 

" But, alas ! how soon it was gone ! 
It fled like a vapor away: 
A cloud passed over the sun, 
And darkness succeeded the day. 

"Again I spent a terrible, sleepless night in 
the wagon, and in the woods ; and in the morning 
it appeared as if Satan was turned loose in my 
soul. These words rang in my ears continually : 
* Tour damnation is sealed — your day of grace is 
past. The Wrath of God is upon you ; you are a 
vessel of wrath, and the devil can be saved as 

390 Methodism in Tennessee. 

well as you.' I verily believed that the wrath of 
God was being executed upon me. A burning 
flame ran through my whole being, attended with 
a dreadful sense of the torments of hell. These 
tormenting voices, for two years, continued at 
times to follow me ; and as I turned quickly from 
side to side to avoid these tormenting whisperers, 
the people looked at me with amazement. 

- 1 rambled up and down with pains that no 
tongue can express. As I am sensible of my- de- 
ficient language, I will say, in the language of 
David, { The pains of hell gat hold upon me.' 

'• I was seized with a burning in my stomach, 
and a fainting sickness ; and so strange were my 
feelings, that my friends feared I was going to 
lose my senses. When I went to bed at night, I 
was afraid to close my eyes to sleep, for fear I 
should wake up in hell." 

Under the most unusual and excruciating ter- 
rors of mind and body, he thus went on for two 
awful years, an account of which, as given at 
length in his Journal, would not only interest, but 
fill with wonder and amazement, any one who 
would read it. 

At JVlr. Burke's request, he spent four weeks 
on the circuit; and this good man and his wife, 
who traveled in company with them, did all they 
could to console and cheer him. Mr. Burke told 
him of a man (Glendenning) whom he knew to be 

Methodism in Tennessee. 391 

in despair for five years, and then the Lord raised 
him up. Sister Burke also said she had suffered 
much the same, but had been delivered. They 
went to Nashville, as it was in Mr. Burke's cir- 
cuit; and here they heard one Haggard, a Repub- 
lican, preach. He says : " Mr. Burke spoke to 
the people very warmly and pathetically. He 
was a natural orator, and did not make a blunder 
while I was with him." All the round with Mr. 
Burke, Mr. Granade was subject to the most 
tormenting fears by day and visions of evil 
spirits by night. His description of a night spent 
at Strother's, on Station Camp Creek, is awful 

The winter of 1797, and the spring and sum- 
mer of 1798, were spent in the woods. Through 
snows and rains, day and night, he went about 
howling, praying, and roaring in such a manner, 
that he was generally believed and reputed to be 
crazy Satan tempted him to believe that he was 
deranged, and that his poetic talent was gone. To 
test the matter, he composed his first spiritual 
poem, which has eighteen verses, and which he 
says he wrote without stopping or difficulty- The 
school-children liked it so much that they sang it 
at the close of school, (he was teaching again,) 
and then he would pray with them. This poem 
is truly full of merit. The subject is, " The Suffer- 
ings of Christ." It begins : 

392 Methodism in Tennessee. 

" Ye travelers that pass this way, 
My agonies awhile survey. 
See what I bear upon the tree, 
While all your sins are laid on me." 

Mr. Granade continued to teach school among 
the Wynns, Babbs, and Stulls during 1799 As 
school-books were scarce, in teaching elocution, 
the Epistles of Paul to the Romans and Corin- 
thians were used. These speeches produced a 
great effect on the teacher's mind. Although he 
now feared that he was a reprobate himself, he 
strove to do all the good he could to others. He 
Avould take his whole school to hear William Mc- 
Gee (a Presbyterian minister) preach. He also 
heard Green Hill at John Brown's, and attended 
class-meeting, where occasionally a slight ray of 
hope would flash in upon his dark spirit. 

A great union-meeting, between the Presby- 
terians and Methodists, was coming off near Mr. 
Blythe's, on Bledsoe's Creek. Mr. Granade hav- 
ing dreamed, two nights before, of being at the 
meeting, and surrounded with God's happy people, 
and that he was here delivered from all his fears, 
he resolved to attend. His account of the im- 
pressions made on his mind at the first sight of 
three thousand persons encamped for worship, is 
truly wonderful. William Lambuth was preach- 
ing on, "And yet shew I unto you a more excel- 
lent way" Mr. Granade drank in eagerly every 

Methodism in Tennessee. 393 

word he (Mr. Lambuth) said, as also the sermon 
which immediately followed, by the Rev John Ran- 
kin, a Presbyterian. When the preacher came to 
the words, " The wind bloweth where it listeth 
so is every one that is born of the Spirit," 
" that very moment," says Mr. Granade, " heaven, 
that I thought was for ever sealed against me, was 
opened. The glory of the Lord, as a rushing, 
mighty wind, descended from heaven and filled 
my whole being. I began to whisper these words : 
'Adoration to God and the Lamb;' and as I re- 
peated these words, the power increased, the 
heavens, the earth, and every thing in a moment 
put on a new aspect. I could keep silence no 
longer, but cried out, e Glory to God ! Glory and 
adoration to God and the Lamb for ever !' Thus 
streams of glory divine poured in upon me, and I 
went all over the encampment, until midnight, 
praising Him who had brought me such deliver- 

This attracted great attention, for Mr. Granade 
was noted for his talent as a wicked poet, and for 
two years had been reported through Tennessee, 
Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, and Kentucky, 
as '-'the crazy man, or wild man," and was indeed 
the wonder of that day Great was the joy among 
the people when " this second Lazarus," as he 
called himself, was raised. He next partook of 
the Lord's-supper with the congregation, and 

394 Methodism in Tennessee. 

giving himself in a solemn vow to God, he arose 
and began exhorting the people. In a few 
moments sinners fell screaming on every side. 
Then followed a scene of indescribable power and 
glory, in which the joyful man continued exhort- 
ing, praising, and shouting all night, and a great 
part of next day 

Being powerfully impressed that it was his 
duty to tell to all what great things the Lord 
had done for him, and to call upon all to turn to 
God and live, he went forth from this scene of 
victory, and " as a giant refreshed with new 
wine," preaching the word of God. His scholars 
and the ungodly neighbors were brought in crowds 
to realize God's saving power. Even those who 
set their faces like steel against this " madness," 
as they called it, were swept before it like grass 
before the fire, only to spring into life again. At 
his first effort, five souls were wonderfully con- 
verted, and he says, " Such exercises of shouting 
and praising were never seen in that country be- 
fore." He soon gave up his school, and went 
from settlement to settlement, warning the peo- 
ple, God attending his words in power every- 

Mr. Granade, at this time, knew nothing scarcely 
of the peculiar system of the Methodists ; " for," 
says he, " they were most intolerably persecuted 

Methodism in Tennessee. 395 

Notwithstanding the calumny and evil-speaking 
that these people met with, he was more than 
willing to cast in his lot with them. He went 
now to a quarterly-meeting, where he met with 
Bishops Asbury and Whatcoat, to w T hom he gave 
his consent to enter the traveling ministry He 
was directed to Cumberland Circuit to join another 
young man — Benjamin Young. On his way to his 
first appointment, he was so powerfully wrought 
upon by the Spirit, that his limbs were so dis- 
torted that he could hardly ride. Those places 
where he had been so sorely tried, and which 
seemed as perdition to him, now became as heaven. 
He visited his old neighborhood on Barton's 
Creek, and as he went from house to house, God 
attended his strange exhortations with great 
power, and many souls were converted. Having 
received permission from the Rev- Mr. Page to go 
and preach where he liked, and having resolved, by 
God's help, to attack the devil's crew anywhere, 
he " took the great county road leading to Nash- 
ville," and at places of drinking, and taverns 
where rude rowdies met, he went right in, and, 
filled with the Spirit, warned them of their dan- 
ger. Some cried for mercy, and found peace. 
Others, blaspheming, went off raving mad. On 
his way he heard of a ball, and resolved at once 
to go, and meet the enemy on his own ground, 
saying : 


96 Methodism in Tennessee. 

"In Jesus' name this day I'll stand, 
As soldier bold with sword in hand, 
The breastplate, helm, and shield: 
Thus armed, the powers of hell shall yield." 

He reached the place, and being invited in, he 
says : •• I went up to Mr. Musician, and stroking 
him on the head, asked him if he would not stop 
fifteen minutes. Thev were dancing, drinking, 
swearing, and huzzaing like loons. The fiddler 
swore at me. and kept on playing. That moment 
the glory of God, as a mighty stream or blaze of 
fire, flashed all over me. and mv lace burned with 
glory I took a book from my pocket, striking it 
in my hand, and thundered out upon them. The 
dancers were so frightened thev hardly knew 
whether they were dancing a jig. or reel, or 
what. A general fright ran all over the house. 
Mr. Fury, one of the k bulls of Baskan.' ran at 
me, and landed me on the door-step. I stepped 
into the yard : the crowd without and from within 
surrounded me like bees. Hell was troubled, and 
threw up angrv billows : but. glory to God. he 
was with me! I thundered away upon them on 
every hand. Some said I was a hypocrite, some 
said I was a good man, some said I was crazy, or 
drunk; another thought I would be a. better fighter 
than preacher. I told them Christ had spilt his 
blood for them, and if they did not repent and 
quit frolicking, they would all go to hell A bold 

Methodism in Tennessee. 307 

orator of the devil said : ' If there was such a 
man as Jesus Christ, and if he had done so much 
for him, he was much obliged to him ; but that he 
thought Tom Paine a greater man than Jesus 
Christ, and would stand on the right hand of 
God in the day of judgment like a game-cock,' 
jumping and huzzaing at the same time in the 
name of Satan. I left them, and went on my 
way rejoicing. This was a remarkable clay- to 
me. As I was riding along, the glory of the 
Lord came down upon me, and constrained me to 
cry aloud for half a mile in praising God. What 
I saw and felt, no mortal tongue can express. 
how near was God to me ! 

" It was my practice," says this intrepid hero, 
" to attack every person I met on the road, if I 
had the least opportunity, and by this means I 
warned many a poor sinner, and found out many 
of God's people, whom I would never have 
known had I gone on silently The world and 
many professors would think me cracked or crazy, 
but while God poured out his power on me in this 
practice, I was determined to pursue it." 

Wishing to form a new circuit on the frontiers, 
he went from Peyton's Creek, by Major Walton's 
Ferry, to Snow Creek, and called the settlers to- 
gether, who heard him gladly, as but two ser- 
mons had ever been preached in those parts. 
His route was thence across Caney Fork and 

398 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Smith's Fork, and round the south side of Cum- 
berland River, via Barton's Creek ; thence across 
Cumberland River ; thence via Goose Creek, and 
so on around. The second night out, he was 
bewildered in the mountains : thick canebrakes 
matted the valleys ; snow was falling fast, and it 
was very cold. His account of this dreadful 
night spent with only his horse and his Saviour, 
(who he says was constantly with him,) and his 
rambling through the tall, thick cane, covered 
with snow, and over the icy mountains, much of 
next day, along pathless routes, is truly appal- 
ling. Exposed to the dangers of the wilderness, 
hungry, weary, and nearly at the point of freezing, 
he says : 

" The barren wilderness to me 
Did then a palace prove ; 
I had King Jesus' company, 
And feasted on his love." 

By prayer and a special providence he was de- 
livered. He labored very hard and very success- 
fully on this frontier circuit. This " son of 
thunder " seems to have been always under most 
powerful influences. He says : " I made the 
mountains, woods, and canebrakes ring louder 
with my shouts and praises than I once did with 
my howling cries. Though it may be hard for 
some to believe, yet I declare the truth in Christ, 
and lie not, and am giving only a very faint 

Methodism in Tennessee. 399 

sketch of my happiness, when I say, that I never 
fell on my knees in secret but the Lord poured 
out his power, so that I shouted out aloud. 
Sometimes I shouted for two or three hours, and 
even fainted under the hand of the Lord. I was 
ready to cry out at the name of Jesus, and what I 
saw by faith, and felt by sweet communion with 
God, I was afraid to relate to my best friends. 
The brightness of heaven rested continually upon 
my soul, so that I was often prevented from sleep- 
ing, eating, reading, writing, or preaching. I 
would sing a song, or pray, or exhort a few 
minutes, and the fire would break out among the 
people; and thus everywhere the slain of the 
Lord were many. I have spent nine nights out 
of ten (besides my day-meetings and long, hard 
rides ) until past midnight with the slain of the 
Lord. Thus I went on regardless of my life. 

" King Jesus was riding the white horse before, 
The watchmen close after, the trumpets do roar : 
Some shouting, some singing, ' Salvation !' they cry : 
In the strength of King Jesus, all hell we defy. 

Many precious souls were converted in a few 
weeks. I went by the name of i the distracted 
preacher,' but I cared not for this. At Brother 
Prim's, on Snow Creek, we had powerful times — 
five or six converted at once. One young man, 
one night, ran out into the big road, crying, ' I am 
damned ! I am damned ! I am lost !' etc., which he 

400 Methodism in Tennessee. 

kept up all night, and next day went to Indian 
Creek, to tell his friends his dreadful state, and 
give them warning. Another time, at the same 
place, a gang of rough men came to watch and 
disturb us, led by one Esquire Gr., who was drunk. 
He came in, and took hold of those who were 
praying, and said he wanted to see what was the 
matter with them. I walked up to him, and or- 
dered him to behave or be off, when he made as 
if he would strike me with his fist. I came nearer 
to him, but he did not strike. After rasing around 


awhile like a mad-dog, and finding that he could 
not intimidate me, nor stop the praying and prais- 
ing, they all ( dried up.' " 

This faithful preacher had much to do in re- 
proving these rough people for hunting on Sunday, 
etc. He speaks of their coming to his meetings 
with bear-skin bands, with the hair on them, around 
their necks. 

Soon after this, and while under almost insup- 
portable glories, he composed " The Bold Pilgrim." 
A few copies of his " hymns and spiritual songs M 
are yet among the old Methodists, and many of 
his pieces are found, without his name to them, in 
the various hymn-books of the land. He says 
that while composing his songs, such, perhaps, as 
" Sweet rivers of redeeming love," etc., he often 
had to stop writing, and praise God for his poetic 
gift, for which he " would not have taken ten 

Methodism in Tennessee. 401 

thousand worlds." He composed '-'Apollyon's 
Lions" while riding through a heavy rain one 
day, to attend an appointment, where some wicked 
men had sworn to meet him and beat him to death, 
because he had spoken plainly to them. They 
accosted him, and cursed and abused him shame- 
fully, but did not lay hands on him ; while he told 
his trembling, weeping brethren, that it was his 
"glory thus to suffer for Christ." 

Mr. Granade speaks of a sacramental-meeting 
among the Presbyterians, at which he and other 
Methodist preachers attended, at Big Spring, 
where God blessed the people in such a wonder- 
ful manner that their shouting praises scarcely 
ceased nialit or day for four days. The feelings 
of love and union among these two denominations 
were strong and pure. At this meeting the preach- 
ers persuaded Mr. Granade to be baptized, for he 
had never received the ordinance. He told them 
he cared but little about it, as he " had already 
been brought through the sea, by the spiritual 
Moses, and drank of the spiritual Rock, which 
was Christ." However, he said he would ask the 
Lord about it, and standing up in the pulpit, with 
his back to the people, he prayed ; and he says, 
*' The Lord ansAvered by fire, and I stood and 
shouted with all my strength for fifteen minutes. 
I got some water, and Brother Page and Brother 
Hodge — a Presbyterian preacher whom my soul 

402 Methodism in Tennessee. 

loved — and Brother John McGee, went with me 
in secret before the Lord. We all kneeled. 
Brother McGee prayed, and poured the water on 
my head, and God poured his heavenly showers 
upon my soul and body, which was enough for me, 
though all the world had condemned the baptism. 
What God approves, stupid man may oppose in 
vain; and as I never conquered the devil by water, 
I shall go on to tell what wonders were done by 

It was now 1800. Mr. Granade attended a 
quarterly -meeting, where he says " the Method- 
ists and Presbyterians were eating, drinking, 
singing, and shouting promiscuously together." 
and where he was recommended to the Green 
Annual Conference.* His last appointment be- 
fore starting to Conference was a wonderful time. 
It was on Snow Creek. While Granade came 
down upon the terrified Sunday bee and bear- 
hunters in the house with his floods of native 
eloquence, the elements without were raging with 
terrific storm. God sent such fiery power with 
the preacher's words of warning, that some of 
these hardy sons of the forest could not stand 
before it, but preferring the storm without to that 
in the house, they left, and ran off. One wicked 
man, whose name was C, swore he w r oulcl never 

* The Western Conference held on Green Circuit. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 403 

hear Granade again. But the undaunted preacher 
hearing of this, started to warn him at his own 
house, but the blasphemer fell dead before he 

Bidding farewell to his many friends, with 
much weeping on both sides, he now set out with 
Brother Page, Brother Hodge, (a brother to the 
Presbyterian,) and two young men, for the Confer- 
ence. Providing themselves with provisions for 
their journey through the " wilderness," they rode 
on, Granade often entertaining the company with 
one of his songs, or a shout which lasted for half 
a mile, his soul being full of joy at the thought, he 
says, " of catching sinners in the gospel net." 
They slept out on the ground at night — heard the 
howlings of furious w T olves as they pursued their 
prey They crossed Obecl's River; thence via 
West Point Ferry; thence to Grassy Valley, and 
at night had meeting at Sterns's and John Win- 
ton's, where they had a glorious time ; thence to 
Vanpelt's; thence to Ebenezer, the seat of Confer- 

The Conference was held in a spacious upper 
room at the house of Felix Earnest. Bishop 
Asbury presided, assisted by Nicholas Snethen, 
William McKendree, and many other elders, dea- 
cons, and preachers. On Sunday, at the sacra- 
ment, great power was felt : twenty souls were 
converted. Granade was greatly excited, and it 

404 Methodism in Tennessee. 

was soon known that the " wild man" was at 
Conference. He excited great curiosity, which, 
however, he did not regard. His recommendation 
was received, and while he was down -stairs, (his 
case being considered,) a collection was taken up 
in Conference. When he came in, Bishop Asbury 
said to him : " We are raising money for a desti- 
tute preacher: how much will you give?" Taking 
out his purse, Granade gave it to the Bishop, 
saying : " I have two dollars — take as much of it 
as you want." The Bishop, putting his money 
and purse into the collected money, handed it to 
the astonished and overjoyed Granade, and em- 
bracing him affectionately, informed him that he 
was received into the Conference. He says 
the Bishop and all the brethren were exceeding 
kind to him. He was appointed to Green Cir- 
cuit, where the Conference was held, with Samuel 
Douthet in charge, who had been there the year 

He at once began on Pigeon River, and at every 
meeting there were great outpourings, and from 
one to ten conversions. The news that the " wild 
man " was preaching brought the people from 
many miles, in great crowds. Many went with 
him from place to place, and as they went they 
would alarm the natives with singing and shouting 
all along the road. Persecution soon began to rage. 
Some said Granade had some kind of powder to 

Methodism in Tennessee. 405 

throw over the people ; some said he had some 
secret trick by which he threw them down ; but 
on he went, disregarding the threats that met him 
everywhere of being mobbed. One day, on his 
way to preach at Tucker's, he asked the Lord to 
give him twenty souls that day ; and he received 
thirty in Society He was sent for to'go to Hol- 
ston Circuit, and it was said that two or three 
thousand people were at the place, (Cashe's 
Meeting-house,) and great power attended his 
preaching from the first chapter of Ezekiel. He 
also went to Knoxville, by invitation, and was 
treated with singular kindness by General White 
and others ; and here also he received many mem- 
bers. Notwithstanding two thousand persons 
petitioned the Bishops to send him back the 
second time to Green Circuit, where he had taken 
in between five and six hundred members, he was 
sent to Holston Circuit, where on the very first 
round he brought in one hundred members, and 
by the fifth round he had five hundred new mem- 
bers, receiving thirty at once, and seventy in three 
days. They built stands in the woods for him all 
around the circuit, as no house would hold half 
the people. On one occasion they put him up 
in a wagon to preach, when he took for his text, 
"A wheel in the middle of a wheel." Ezek. i. 16. 
And the people fell all around the wagon, and 
under it, and great wonders w T ere wrought. 

406 Methodism in Tennessee. 

He speaks of a meeting at McKee's, near Gov- 
ernor Sevier's, which lasted until daylight, and 
■with many others who were slain and made alive, 
five of the Governor's family were received into 
Society "About that time," says he, " the peo- 
ple said the 'wild man' is about to take the 
world, and I thought that the i wild man's ' God 
was about to take it, and I verily believe he will 
yet." He went to Jonesboro, where some had 
sworn he should not preach ; and as he rode into 
town, an awful storm of wind, rain, terrific thun- 
der and lightning came upon the place. He made 
his way to the court-house, and spoke to a great 
crowd of wonder-struck hearers, from, "And he 
will be a wild man." Gen. xvi. 12. Many were 
slain, and some converted. At Easlie's, on Horse 
Creek, the people fell as if they had been slain by 
a mighty w x eapon, and lay in such piles and heaps 
that it was feared they would suffocate, and that 
in the woods. 

After several great camp-meetings on Holston 
Circuit, in the fall of the year, Granade was sent 
to New River Circuit, whither he went through 
snow and storm. His first appointment was at 
John Carr's, on Walker's Creek, in a rough, stony 
region. From the great number of appointments, 
and his long rides, this must have been a very 
large and laborious work. The accounts he gives 
us of his labors among the simple, rough, and 

Methodism in Tennessee. 407 

wicked inhabitants of this new and sparsely-set- 
tled country, and the wonderful manifestations of 
divine power which everywhere attended his sin- 
gular preaching, are of thrilling interest. 

Here he acquired a knowledge of Latin, and 
studied very hard, wrote much, and received 
many into the Church. But he was suddenly 
attacked with a very severe and painful breast 
disease, from which he suffered long, and in con- 
sequence of which he had to give up the great 
work of warning sinners, and, as well as we can 
learn, it was in 1803 or 1804 that he located. 
He Avent to Kentucky, and studied physic under 
the celebrated Dr. Hinde. near Lexington ; and re- 
turning to Wilson county, Tennessee, he married 
a Miss Polly Wynn, in 1805. His pious wife, 
who completed his Journal after his death, says : 
" He continued to preach when able, and practiced 
medicine with great success. He was always 
happy; the Bible was his constant companion; 
he enjoyed perfect love. On December 6, 1807, 
full of peace, he passed away His last words 
were, < Glory to God and the Lamb for ever !' " 

Among that noble host of heroic spirits who 
went through the Western wilds preaching Jesus 
to the new settlers, perhaps none were more self- 
denying and faithful, and did more good, than 
did John Adam Granade, in his brief career. 
Though this sketch has grown to a much greater 

408 Methodism in Tennessee. 

length than I at first intended, and many things 
of a thrilling interest left untold, I cannot forbear 
giving, as a specimen of this eccentric man's poetic 
gift, a poem composed just as he thought he was 
dying, at the close of his itinerant career, and 


What sound is this salutes my ear ? 
Methinks its Jubal's trump I hear, 

Long looked-for now is come : 
It shakes the heavens, earth, and sea, 
Proclaims the Year of Jubilee, 

Return ye exiles home. 

Behold, the New Jerusalem, 
Illuminated by the Lamb, 

In glory doth appear : 
Fair Zion rising from the tombs, 
To meet the bridegroom as he conies, 

And hails the Jubilee Year ! 

King Jesus takes her in his arms ; 
Transported with his lovely charms, 

She thus begins to sing : 
"The howling winter now is past, 
The smiling season 's come at last, 

Behold the rosy spring !" 

As lark and linnet gladly sing, 

While hills and valleys round them ring, 

'Scaped from the fowler's snare : 
One thousand years she here shall dwell, 
And sing while Satan 's chained in hell, 

Which ends the Jubilee Year ! 

Methodism in Tennessee. 409 

The dragon is let loose once more, 
All round the earth his trumpets roar, 

And is for war again ; 
But He that sits upon the throne, 
Drives Satan and his armies down, 

To plow the fiery main ! 

The seventh trumpet we shall hear, 

The great white throne shall then appear, 

Ten thousand ages round : 
Jehovah turns the moon to blood, 
Blows out the sun, consumes the flood, 

And burns the solid ground. 

Arise, ye nations, and come forth, 

From east and west, from south and north. 

Behold ! the Judge is come ! 
What horror strikes each guilty breast, 
Compelled to stand the solemn test, 

And hear their final doom : 

" Depart, ye cursed, down to hell, 
With howling fiends for ever dwell, 

No more to see my face : 
My gospel calls you have withstood, 
And trampled on my precious blood, 

And laughed at offered grace !" 

Some parents and their children part, 
Some shout for joy, some bleed in heart, 

Never to meet again. 
In fiery chariots Zion flies, 
And quickly gains the upper skies, 

On Canaan's dazzling plain. 
VOL. i.— 18 

410 Methodism in Tennessee. 

My soul is struggling to be there, 
I long to rise and wing the air, 

To trace the heavenly road. 
Adieu, adieu, all earthly things ! 
O that I had some angel's wings, 

I 'd quickly see my God ! 

To this long account we add Mr. Carr's notice 
of Mr. Granade, remarking that he is in error 
as to the time that Mr. Granade entered the 
traveling connection : it was in 1S02, and not in 
1801. Mr. Carr states that Mr. Granade was 
married to Miss Babb, but the Rev H. M. 
Granade says that he was married to Miss Polly 
Wynu. We presume the latter to be correct, as 
he has the Journal of Mr. Granade, and besides 
is his grandson. Mr. Carr says : 

"At the beginning of the present century, there 
sprang up, and soon passed away, one of the most 
extraordinary men ever known in the country ; 
and as I was intimately acquainted with him. it is 
proper I should give a brief sketch of his life. I 
allude to John Adam Granade, the poet of the 
backwoods settlement, and a preacher of strange 
power, though called by many people the wild 
man. No person, as far as I have seen, has given 
any written account of him, except Dr. Baker, 
who, in a communication addressed to the Bev. 
James B. Finley, has given a very correct descrip- 
tion of his preaching, and the singular effects that 

Methodism in Tennessee. 411 

followed it. Granade was a native either of Vir- 
ginia or North Carolina — of the latter State, I 
believe. He embraced religion and joined the 
Methodists in the county of his nativity It was 
deeply impressed upon his mind that he was 
called to preach the gospel; but, rejecting the 
call, he lost all religious enjoyment. In the fall 
of 1798 he removed with his brother-in-law to 
Tennessee, and settled a few miles from the place 
where I lived, on Goose Creek, in Sumner county, 
and there I became acquainted with him. He 
learned there was circuit-preaching in the neigh- 
borhood, and made his appearance at meeting 
shortly after his arrival in the country At that 
time he was the most pitiable human being upon 
whom I ever rested my eyes. His agony of soul 
was so intense that he scarcely took food enough 
to support nature, and the effects of his abstinence 
told plainly upon his health and physical condi- 
tion in general. He was not deranged, but was 
in a state of desperation about his soul. He said 
that once he had enjoyed religion, but he feared 
mercy for him was clean gone for ever. Never- 
theless, he constantly pleaded with God for mercy 
through Jesus Christ. Days, and weeks, and 
months together he spent in the wild-woods, cry- 
ing for mercy, mercy , mercy ! In his roamings 
the Bible w r as his companion always. His horse, 
which he sometimes rode to meeting, seemed al- 

412 Methodism in Tennessee. 

most to understand his situation. I have met 
him after he had started to meeting, when his 
horse was feeding by the road-side, while he sat 
with head upturned and hands raised toward 
heaven, praying God to have mercy upon him; 
and all the while he seemed unconscious that he 
was on horseback. Great pains were taken with 
him by preachers and people. Quite naturally, 
his case excited sympathy, which was much in- 
creased among those who perceived he had been 
well raised and educated, and that he was en- 
dowed with an uncommon poetical talent. In 
fact, he was a born poet, and during his dreadful 
depression he composed pieces of poetry, the pub- 
lication of which now would quite astonish the 

" Granade continued in this melancholy situa- 
tion until the fall of 1800, when he attended the 
great meeting, already noticed, held by the Pres- 
byterians, on Desha's Creek; and at that meeting 
he obtained deliverance from bondage. I was 
present at the time. The scene was awful and 
solemn beyond description. It drew the atten- 
tion of the hundreds of people assembled on the 
ground, and the clergy as well as the laity were 
struck with wonder, while they witnessed a change 
the like of which had never before come under 
their notice. Heaven was pictured upon the face 
of the happy man, and his language, as though 

Methodism in Tennessee. 413 

learned in a new world, was apparently super- 
human. He spoke of angels and archangels, 
cherubim and seraphim, and dwelt with rapture 
upon the fullness and freeness of the gospel of 
Christ for the salvation of a lost world. From 
that meeting immediately he went forth and be- 
gan to speak in public, and soon afterward he 
was licensed .-to preach the gospel. He had the 
most singular exercises in preaching — his hands 
and feet, as well as his tongue, being constantly 
in motion. I have frequently seen him at private 
houses, when, if he commenced preaching on one 
side of the room, he would end his sermon on the 
opposite side. He had much knowledge of the 
Holy Scriptures, was a man of great imagination 
and commanding appearance, and his preaching 
was very successful. The preachers sought to 
induce him to take a circuit ; but if he tried it he 
would, before making one round, be perhaps forty 
or fifty miles distant from the place of his regu- 
lar appointment, at some point out of the way 
Preaching thus irregularly, he drew the attention 
of the people, and multitudes crowded to hear 
him. He went on thus, preaching anywhere and 
everywhere, at his own will, until the spring of 
1801, when, wishing to convince preachers and 
people that God had called him to labor in that 
way, he undertook to prophesy one Sabbath, in 
the midst of a long spell of very dry weather— 

414 Methodism in Tennessee. 

he was preaching to a large congregation-r-and he 
told the people that, if it" did not rain the . jiext 
Sabhath, God had not called him to labor as he 
was doing. Thus his great zeal proved a snare 
to him. The next Sabbath was a beautiful, clear, 
bright day, without the shadow of a cloud even, 
to keep the prophet in countenance. Granade 
saw his error, and, going immediately to one of 
the preachers, John Page, he gave himself into 
his hands for disposal. About three months after- 
ward, Quarterly-meeting Conference came on, of 
which I was a member at that time. Bishop Mc- 
Kendree was then Presiding Elder. The case of 
prophesying by John A. Granade was brought 
forward for hearing, and though it took place more 
than fifty years ago, I remember well the pro* 
ceedings of that day John Page, though a great 
stickler for discipline, rose and told the Confer- 
ence that Brother Granade had been with him for 
three weeks, and that he was the most prayerful 
and devoted man with whom he had ever ^trav- 
eled, and for that reason he hoped the Conference 
would deal as mercifully with him as they could , 
consistently do" under the circumstances. It was 
decided that he should be deprived of his licenser 
as a preacher for three months, though during that 
time he might hold meetings as an exhorfegr; and 
that, if he conducted himself well, his" license 
should* be restored to him at the end of three 

Methodism in Tennessee. 415 

months. After this decision, Granade, who had 
retired, was called into the house, and upon his 
return he exhorted the members of the Confer- 
ence, and urged them to pray to God. The secre- 
tary read to him the decision in his case, and upon 
hearing it, he exclaimed, c What ! not preach for 
three months ?' He then told the Conference that 
if they could stop the devil for three months, he 
would submit to the decision ; but as long as the 
devil went about as a roaring lion, he was bound 
to wage war against him. When it was explained 
to him that he might exhort the people, it seemed 
not to satisfy him; so that he did not surrender 
his license to the Conference, and it was feared he 
would not yield it to them. The brethren — sup- 
posing, perhaps, that I had greater influence with 
him than any other man — laid it upon me to try 
and get his license away from him. So that even- 
ing I induced him to take a walk with me ; and 
while we were in a retired place, I told him that 
the Conference had dealt mercifully with him, in 
allowing him even to exhort the people, in which 
work, for three months, he might do as much good 
as he had ever done in that length of time ; and 
that, with this view of the matter, he ought to 
submit to the decision in his case. He yielded 
the point, and gave his license to me. I remem- 
ber well the appropriate remarks of the Presiding 
Elder on the occasion, when, among other things, 

.416 Methodism in Tennessee. 

he said : ' Brother Granade, had I given latitude 
to my religious feelings when I was young, I 
should have gone astray Our zeal should be 
founded on the word of God and according to 
knowledge.' Granade went forth from that Con- 
ference, and I suppose he never, for three months, 
did more good than he did during this time of his 
suspension as a preacher. He seemed to have a 
peculiar enmity against the devil, and would call 
him by singular names, that would create levity 
in these days of refinement, though he did it in a 
way that no one then was amused at. He would 
describe the devil as a man-of-war, with a gun in 
hand, trying to shoot the righteous. Then he 
would undertake to show how the gun might be 
put out of order, so that the devil should miss his 
aim. By prayer and faith he would bend the 
barrel, or knock off the hind sight, and thus the 
devil would shoot and be disappointed in his ex- 
pectation. His meetings were attended by im- 
mense crowds of people, and his labors resulted in 
turning many to righteousness. 

"At the end of three months Granade was 
again licensed as a preacher, and in the fall of 
1801 he was admitted into the traveling connec- 
tion, and was sent to East Tennessee, where he 
labored with great success. The people, in vast 
numbers, congregated at his appointments, and 
followed him, as they used to do Lorenzo Dow, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 417 

from neighborhood to neighborhood. They erected 
stands in the woods, from which he preached to 
them; and often he broke down the stands by 
stamping with his feet and smiting with his hands. 
A gentleman told me that he went to hear him in 
East Tennessee, at a private house, and a large 
building too, though the congregation was so great 
that not near all were accommodated. After 
preaching, the members of the Church retired 
upstairs for class -meeting, and they crowded in 
until the room above was filled, and the one below 
was still nearly full. Granade was in one of his 
big ways, and spoke aloud, so as to be heard 
below as well as above. In a loud voice he said 
he felt like breaking the trigger of hell, and, giv- 
ing a tremendous stamp with his foot, he actually 
broke one of the joists, which made a report al- 
most like the firing of a gun. The people below 
screamed and ran to the door, some thinking hell 
had overtaken them. But the accident did not at 
all dampen the preacher's ardent zeal. These 
things I mention as evidence of the man's eccen- 

"But, with all these wild and curious move- 
ments, Granade was one of the most devoted and 
useful of men. Well -versed in the Scriptures, 
particularly the prophecies, into which he could 
go deeper than any one I have ever heard, and 
gifted in language and voice, he was one of the 

418 Methodism in Tennessee. 

most extraordinary preachers of his day He 
could paint the sublime glories of heaven so viv- 
idly that it seemed almost as though one were 
gazing upon the reality; and he could so repre- 
sent the horrors of hell and the punishment of 
the wicked, that the scene almost made one's hair 
rise on his head. He traveled and preached for 
three years, I believe, in East Tennessee and Vir- 
ginia, and then returned to Middle Tennessee 
completely broken down, so that he could speak 
only in a low tone of voice. Soon after his return 
I saw him at a camp-meeting, where I heard him 
talk a sermon in a feeble way, as to manner, 
though in matter it was a stream of divinity He 
was entirely cured of his wild ways : his hands 
and feet were motionless, and, indeed, his sermon 
was unattended by the slightest bodily agitation. 
Not long afterward he married a Miss Babb, of 
Wilson county, where, having settled, he entered 
upon the practice of medicine, but died in a few 

Methodism in Tennessee. 419 


Conference at Mount Gerizim — Bishop Asbury present — A 
gracious outpouring of the Spirit — Numbers in Society — 
Stations of the preachers — Geographical description — ■ 
John Watson — Henry Smith — Louther Taylor — Nash- 
ville Circuit — Levin Edney — Jesse Walker — James 
Gwin — Indian battles — The Church in the wilderness — 
Mr. Gwin's labors and death — Mrs. Gwin — " Gloom and 
glory " : a thrilling letter. 

The Western Conference convened this year 
(1803) at Mount Gerizim, Harrison county, Ken- 
tucky, October 2d. Bishop Asbury was present, 
having passed through Ohio looking after the 
interests of the infant Church in the North-west- 
ern Territory He preached to large congrega- 
tions, and there were, during the Conference, 
twenty souls happily converted, besides five at a 
family meeting. The work during the year had 
enlarged, and many were added to the Church. 
The number reported for the whole Conference 
was 7,738 whites, and 464 colored. In the Ten- 
nessee portion of the work the returns were as 
follows : Holston— whites, 683 ; colored, 15. Noli- 
chucky— whites, 659 ; colored, 35. French Broad 

420 Methodism in Tennessee. 

— whites, 683; colored, 24. Nashville and Red 
River — whites, 742; colored, 106. 

In these statistics there are no doubt included 
some churches which were not in the State of 
Tennessee ; while other circuits, not mentioned 
above, embraced territory in the State. 

The following were the Appointments : 

Holston District. — John Watson, P E.; Hol- 
ston, Thomas Milligan, John A. Granade ; Noli- 
chucky, Henry Smith; French Broad, Louther 
Taylor; Powell's Valley, Benj. Young; Clinch, 
Moses Black ; New River, Learner Blackman. 

Cumberland District. — John Page, P E. ; 
Nashville, Thomas Wilkerson, Levin Edney; Red 
River, Jesse Walker ; Barren, James Gwin, Jacob 
Young; Natchez, Moses Floyd, Tobias Gibson. 

Dr. McAnally, in his notes on Holston Confer- 
ence Methodism, pens the following geographical 
description : 

" £tew-Jliver Circuit included the country lying 
west of that river, from the Carolina line, on north 
and north-west, through Tazewell and Giles coun- 
ties, in Virginia. Holston Circuit came in next, 
on the west, and embraced the country on both 
sides of the main traveling route from somewhere 
west of Wythe Court-house, to considerably west 
of Abingdon. Clinch included Russell, Scott, 
and part of Lee counties, Virginia, and a part of 
Tennessee lying north of the Holston River. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 421 

Powell's Valley embraced all the settled country 
lying between Clinch River and the Cumberland 
Mountains, from about Lee Court-house, in 
Virginia, on as far west as the settlements ex- 
tended. Xolichucky included the upper part of 
East Tennessee, down as low as about the western 
line of Greene county French Broad came in 
immediately west, and occupied country on both 
sides of the French Broad and Holston Rivers. 
The wilderness, to which Jacob Young was sent, 
lay in the mountainous country lying north and 
west of the Valley of East Tennessee. 

" This year, as on the three preceding, Bishop 
Asbury visited a large portion of all the promi- 
nent settlements in this country, contributing 
what he could to the advancement of the work 
and the prosperity of the cause of God. No work 
possible to be done was too arduous for him to 
undertake ; and much of that zeal and aggressive, 
as well as persevering, spirit, characterizing the 
Methodist preachers of that day, was doubtless 
owing to the example they ever had before them, 
in the course pursued by their Bishop." * 

In the list of preachers several new names 
appear, some of which are familiar to all who 
are acquainted with the history of Methodism in 
the West. 

: Life and Times of Dr. Patton, pp. 130, 131. 

422 Methodism in Tennessee. 

John Watson, the Presiding Elder of the Hoi- 
ston District, filled many important stations in 
the Church, and continued in the ministry, labor- 
ino' in Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South 
Carolina, and finally in the Baltimore Conference, 
at Washington City, and other places, until 1824, 
when he died near Martinsburs:, Virginia. 

Henry Smith was an extraordinary man in 
labors, in piety, and perseverance. He was in 
the ministry sixty-nine years, and finally, after 
having preached in Western Virginia, the North- 
western Territory. Kentucky, and East Tennes- 
see, he was transferred back to the Baltimore 
Conference, and died in Maryland, his native 
State, in his ninety-fourth vear. 

Louther Tavlor continued a few years in the, 
itinerancy, laboring in Kentucky and Ohio, and 
iocater 1 in 1806. 

This year Xashrille Circuit first appears in the 
Minutes. Heretofore the country about Nash- 
ville was embraced in the Cumberland Circuit; 
from this time forward it stands prominent in the 
list of Appointments in Tennessee. Levin Edney 
was on the circuit with that great man, Thomas 
Wilkerson. Mr. Ednev continued on the Xash- 
ville Circuit the next year, and was in charge. 
His name then disappears from the Minutes, but 
he settled some twelve or fifteen miles west of 
Nashville, on the Harpeth River, where he lived 

Methodism in Tennessee. 423 

to an advanced age, maintaining a good reputation 
till the day of his death. He was somewhat ec- 
centric in his manners, but was a good man and 
a faithful minister. 

Edney's Chapel, erected near to the residence 
of Mr. Edney, was long a place for popular meet- 
ings, and in the neighborhood there is now a 
prosperous Church. The old house was destroyed 
by fire a few years since. 

Among those received on trial this year, the 
name of Jesse Walker appears. Mr. Walker be- 
came conspicuous as a pioneer preacher, and de- 
mands an extensive notice in this work, especially 
as he began his ministry in Tennessee. Mr. Gar- 
rett, in his Recollections of the West, written 
in 1834, makes the following notice of Mr. 
Walker : 

"Jesse Walker was a plain, unlettered man, 
but he was also an intrepid, laborious, persever- 
ing, useful preacher, and we fully adopt the senti- 
ments expressed by Dr. Haweis, in his Ecclesias- 
tical History, that i the plain story of the illiterate 
man telling of the sufferings of Christ and the 
glories that followed, has done more in converting 
men to real Christianity than all the great polemics 
put together.' He formed the Red River Circuit, 
which embraced what is now Logan county, in 
Kentucky; Robertson, Montgomery, Dickson, and 
Stewart, in Tennessee — added many to the Church, 

424 Methodism in Tennessee. 

and labored with great success. He then formei 
Livingston, near the mouth of Cumberland, where 
there was a gracious revival. James Axley and 
Peter Cartwfaght, men well known, were the 
fruits of this revival, and soon after became itin- 
erant preachers, and traveled extensively. 

" In 1 807, Jesse Walker was stationed in Illi- 
nois, where he was remarkably useful in getting 
up and carrying on a glorious revival of religion — 
some account of which is s^iven in James Gwin's 
history of the Church in the wilderness, contained 
in this volume. He was afterward sent to Mis- 
souri, to form new circuits, and then was Presid- 
ing Elder on Illinois District ; and has been ever 
since laboring as a pioneer in the north-western 
extremities of the work. For some years he has 
been a missionary to the Indians in that direction, 
and at present is stationed on the Chicago Mission. 
Thus has this laborious, useful man spent thirty 
years in what we may term itinerant missionary 
labors — almost entirely in cultivating new ground 
— and forming circuits, as the voice of one cry-, 
ing in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the 

"While the tide of emigration was flowing 
rapidly West and North-west, the indefatigable 
Jesse Walker was ever on the alert — his ardent, 
itinerant soul seemed to grasp the whole north- 
western region — ever ready to say, ' Here am I, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 425 

send me' — to the poor, to the needy, to the cabins, 
to the camps, or to the woods — to the pathless 
leserts — yea, to the savage tribes — to carry the 
news of redeeming love, to plant the standard of 
the cross, and gather into the fold of Christ scat- 
tered and perishing souls. 

" This enterprising itinerant pioneer set out in 
this work in the year 1803, from Davidson county, 
Tennessee, where some of his relations still re- 
side. He then had a wife and two or three chil- 
dren : he was a poor man then, and is doubtless a 
poor man yet ; for he has all along received but 
little pecuniary aid, as Methodist preachers gen- 
erally do, especially on the frontier ; but he has 
borne poverty and suffering, and has not fainted, 
and now when he is perhaps near seventy years 
old, he still fills a missionary station far up the 

"This is missionary enterprise, labor, and per- 
severance worth recording ; and although it may 
be but little known, and little esteemed by some 
men, yet we hope and believe that it is in the 
sight of Gocl of great price, and that many a pre- 
cious soul has been, and will thereby be gathered 
into the mansions of rest. 

"What an astonishing change since Jesse 
Walker went to Illinois in 1807, and crossed over 
to Missouri ! There was then only one hundred 
and ten Church -members ; there are now two 

426 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Conferences and twenty-two thousand one hundred 
and thirteen Church-members. Walker was then, 
perhaps, the only preacher in Illinois and Mis- 
souri ; but the number is now swelled to hun- 
dreds, and yet such is the extent of territory, and 
such the flow of population westward, that the call 
for laborers is pressing — the harvest is still great, 
and the laborers few-" 

Mr. Walker persevered in his work till he was 
able no longer to fulfill his high and holy calling 
as an itinerant minister. The following were the 
fields he cultivated during his long and laborious 
ministerial life : 

" Jesse Walker was admitted in 1802 into the 
Western Conference, on trial. His first appoint- 
ment was to the Red River Circuit,* which had 
previously been embraced in the Cumberland, and 
lay partly in Kentucky. In 1803, he was ap- 
pointed to the Livingston, and in 1804 and 1805, 
to the Hartford. His labors on the Hartford 
Circuit closed his work in Kentucky. From this 
period, as long as he was able to travel and preach, 
he occupied the most dangerous and difficult posts 
on the frontier. In 1806, his circuit was the Illi- 
nois, embracing all of what is now that flourishing 

* " On the Sulphur Fork of Bed Kiver, the first attempt 
was made by Benjamin Ogden to form a society, the first 
that was made by the Methodists. Some few joined. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 427 

State, where he could find a community that would 
hear the gospel. In 1807,. he was sent to the 
Missouri Circuit, to occupy the country embraced 
in that vast territory. On the following year he 
was returned to the Illinois Circuit; in 1809 and 
1810, to Cape Girardeau ; and in 1811, we find 
him again in Illinois, prosecuting with apostolic 
zeal his high and holy calling. In 1812, he was 
placed in charge of the Illinois District — then in- 
cluded in the Tennessee Conference, and em- 
bracing the Missouri, Coldwater, Merrimack, Cape 
Girardeau, New Madrid, and Illinois Circuits — 
where he remained for four years. In 1816, we 
find him in the Missouri Conference, in charge of 
the Missouri District, over which he presides 
for three years. In 1819 and 1820, his appoint- 
ments are : Jesse Walker, missionary, investing 
him with authority to extend his labors to the 
farthest borders of civilization, and to plant the 
standard of the cross upon its very verge. 

"In 1821, he was appointed missionary to St. 
Louis, and in 1822, he was the Conference mis- 
sionary in the State of Missouri. In 1823, his 
appointment reads: < Jesse Walker, missionary 
to Missouri Conference, whose attention is par- 
ticularly directed to the Indians within the bounds 
of said Conference ;' and in 1824 : < Jesse Walker, 
missionary to the settlements between the Illinois 
and the Mississippi Rivers, and to the Indians in 

428 Methodism in Tennessee. 

the vicinity of Fort Clark.' In 1825, he is in the 
Illinois Conference, and missionary to the Potta- 
watomie Indians. In 1826 and 1827, his ap- 
pointment is to the Pottawatomie Mission: in 
1828. to the Peoria, and in 1829. to the Fox 
River Mission. In the year 1830. he has charge 
of the Chicago Mission, and the following year he 
is Presiding Elder on Mission District, embracing 
five separate charges, and also missionary to 
Duplin. His appointment for 1832 is to the 
Chicago District, and missionary to Chicago, and 
the following year to the Chicago Mission. This 
was his last charge. From the Conference of 
1834. until his death, he sustained a superan- 
nuated relation." * 

Subjoined is the official memoir as prepared by 
the Illinois Conference, and published in the Gen- 
eral Minutes : 

•-Jesse Walker, who died. October 5, 1835, 
while the Illinois Conference was in session, was 
admitted on trial in the traveling connection in 
the autumn of 1802. as appears from the Minutes 
of 1803 ; but no information could be obtained 
relative to him previous to this event. It appears 
from the Minutes that our deceased brother spent 
the first four years of his itinerant life, in the 
then Cumberland District, in Tennessee and Ken- 

* Bedford's Methodism in Kentucky, pp. 414-416. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 429 

tucky; but in 1807, he came to the then uncul- 
tivated wilderness and bleak prairies of Illinois. 
The next year he went to Missouri, and has con- 
tinued in ' these ends of the earth/ breaking up 
new ground, and establishing new missions, till 
his health failed him, and he was compelled to 
take a superannuated relation at the Conference 
of 1834. He then retired to his farm in Cook 
county, Illinois, where he died in the bosom of 
his family The last moments of our beloved, 
and deceased brother were such as might be ex- 
pected from his long and laborious life in the w T ay 
of doing good. To a ministerial brother, who 
visited him shortly before his demise, he said that 
God had been with him from the time of his con- 
version, and was still with him. His last moments 
were tranquil, and he died in full and confident 
hope of a blessed immortality " 

Mr. Walker died during the session of the Con- 
ference in Clark county, Illinois. His name will 
live as long as the history of Methodism shall 
live; yea, his name is written in the book of 
life, and many in the day of eternity will rise up 
and call him blessed. 

James Gwin was this year received on trial, 
and appointed to the Barren Circuit, with Jacob 
Young. James Gwin was in many respects a 
remarkable man. His person was commanding, 
being more than six feet in height, and in his 

430 Methodism in Tennessee. 

later years he weighed over two hundred pounds. 
His features were large and symmetrical, and his 
voice unsurpassed for strength and sweetness : he 
was inferior to few in the power of song. Alone, 
in singing one hymn, he would move a multitude. 
His early educational opportunities were limited, 
but he was a great student of nature, and had won- 
derful fluency of speech. His sermons~were not 
remarkable for order or symmetry, nor did they 
show much familiarity with the classics or scho- 
lastic divinity; but he was well-versed in the 
Scriptures, and had studied the human heart; 
hence his discourses were direct, and oftentimes 
eloquent and powerful. He was gifted in prayer 
and exhortation, and won many souls to the cross. 
Said a young minister, who was his colleague in 
Nashville, while Mr. Gwin was pastor there, 
<*' Brother Gwin, how is it that you are ever pre- 
pared to preach ? You seem to be seldom in your 
study, and scarcely ever read." "0 my son,* 
replied Mr. Gwin, "you do not understand it: 
you preachers of your class have to read and study 
books to master your subjects, but I know what 
the books are made of before they are printed." 

Mr. Gwin was a brave man, and never feared 
danger. He was a great favorite with General 
Andrew Jackson, and was his chief chaplain in 
his Louisiana expedition : he was present at the 
battle of New Orleans, had charge of the sick, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 431 

and did good service in preaching to the soldiers, 
attending the disabled, and burying the dead. 
His conduct was such as to secure the confidence 
of the men and the officers; so that after the war 
ended, he had unbounded influence with all who 
knew him in the perils and hard.- hips of a severe 
campaign. He so completely won the commander- 
in-chief, that when he came into office as President 
of the United States, he conferred appointments on 
his sons, and would have promoted the aged min- 
ister himself, only that he had a higher office than 
could be conferred by any earthly power. His 
two sons are not unknown to fame — Colonel 
Samuel Gwin, of Mississippi, and the Hon. Wil- 
liam M. Gwin, who was once United States 
Marshal in Mississippi, and a Senator in the 
United States Congress. 

Before Mr. Gwin began to preach, he was in 
several battles with the Indians, and proved him- 
self a valiant soldier. He has left a graphic de- 
scription of two furious fights in which he took 
part, and which are incorporated in this notice: 

"A battle was fought in the Horse -shoe 
Bend of the Caney Fork River, in November, 
1702. At that time the people of this country 
were generally shut up in stations and block- 
houses, and we did not at any time or place feel 
that we were safe from Indian violence. The 
plowman had to be guarded in his field, while 

432 Methodism in Tennessee. 

tending his crop. The sentinel was generally 
placed outside of the field, at those points where 
the foe would most likely make his approach, or 
seek to lie in ambush. The time of the great- 
est danger was in going out in the morning to our 
work, for at such times we did not know at what 
moment we would hear the yells of savages and 
the report of the Indian's gun. They would lie 
in close concealment, and the first discovery we 
would make of them would be by the blaze of 
their rifles ; and so frequently was the laborer 
arrested and killed on his way to his work that 
we adopted the following method : Early in the 
morning, before any person would venture out to 
his farm or field, we would take our rifles, mount 
some of our swiftest horses, set out our hunting 
or bear-dogs, and pass round the field or place of 
labor, and scour the woods; then guard the labor- 
ers, as above noticed. 

" We had to keep guard all night in our block- 
houses, for we were often attacked in the night. 
The enemy would come sometimes with torches 
of hickory bark, and attempt to set our station on 
fire. About this time a large body of Indians 
attacked the Greenfield Station. It was earl)' in 
the morning, before any person had left the sta- 
tion. The enemy advanced within a short dis- 
tance of the station before they were discovered, 
and with an awful yell the savages shouted to the 

Methodism in Tennessee. 433 

attack. The station was feeble in point of num- 
bers, for there were but few men in it ; but by 
the efforts of a few brave fellows, led on by the 
gallant William Hall, now General Hall, of Sum- 
ner countv, the station was saved. This brave 
vouth, not then more than eighteen years old, 
under a shower of arrows and rifle -balls, threw 
open the gate, and, followed by the few men that 
he had, rushed upon the foe, drove them from 
their coverts, and, by a well-directed fire which 
was sent among them, brought several of their 
leaders to the ground, at which they gathered up 
their dead and fled to the wilderness. 

"At length the Indians became so troublesome 
that we had to form scouting-parties, and surprise 
them at their camps, and so scour the county 
Lieutenant Snoddie was ordered out on a tour of 
this kind. He started with thirty-four mounted 
men. with rifles or muskets, crossed Cumberland 
River, and ranged up Caney Fork River. We 
had traveled about thirty miles through the wil- 
derness, when we discovered a large Indian camp, 
which we fired upon, and found in it but one In- 
dian, and he made his escape, all the rest being 
out hunting, as we supposed. From packages and 
other things, we were convinced that there could 
not be less than fifty or sixty warriors belonging 
to the camp. We took all the plunder, ammuni- 
tion, and implements of war which they had left 

VOL. I. — 19 

434 Methodism in Tennessee. 

at the camp. It was now near sunset, and we 
determined to encamp within a short distance of 
them, and pursue them in the morning. We made 
choice of a high bluff on the river, where there 
was an ancient stone wall, but now fallen down 
and lying in ruins. We laid off our encampment 
in a semicircle, with each wing reaching to the 
bluff, and our horses and packages brought into 
the center. The ground was broken and the tim- 
ber small. We prepared ourselves in the best 
way we could for an attack, if the Indians should 
have courage enough to make one. All but the 
sentinels lay down to rest, but not to sleep. It 
was not long, however, before the Indians began 
to collect their forces ; and this they accomplished 
in perfect harmony with their wild and savage 
nature. They would imitate the wolf in his howl, 
scream like the panther, and then they would bark 
like a fox, while others hooted like an owl ; in- 
deed, the notes of almost all kinds of wild animals 
were heard during the night. At length a most 
horrid yell, supposed to be made by the chief, 
designated the place where all were to meet. The 
night was dark and rainy In the darkness of 
the night they examined the ground we occupied, 
and held intercourse with each other by wild and 
savage notes. These movements produced sensa- 
tions of mind more awful and terrific than even 
the rush of battle. 

Methodism in Tennessee, 435 

"A little before day all was hushed — the still- 
ness of death prevailed, except the pattering of 
the falling rain. During this silence the Indians 
crept up within forty steps of us, and the first 
discovery we had of them was the snapping of 
their guns. In consequence of the rain that fell 
during the night, their priming had become damp, 
and but few of their guns went off. This was 
much in our favor, for our arms were well secured, 
which gave us a decided advantage over them. 
As soon as the attempt was made to fire, the yell 
for blood was heard almost all round our line, for 
they had well-nigh surrounded us. Our men also 
shouted to the battle, and poured in a shower of 
rifle-balls among them. It was now daylight, and 
the Indians brought all their forces to bear upon 
the center of our ranks, and the contest became 
close and desperate. At the first fire four of our 
men broke, left us, and made the best of their 
way home. This left but thirty to contend with 
sixty warriors led on by a Shawnee chief. The 
enemy drew up within twenty- five steps, and 
fought bravely; but they had to contend with a 
Spartan band, who seldom threw away a shot. 

" James Madell, a cool and skillful marksman, 
had taken his stand in the center of the line : the 
courageous Lattimore and Seaberry stood behind 
him. They kept up a constant fire until Latti- 
more and Senberry had both fallen to rise no 

436 Methodism in Tennessee: 

more. Madell still stood at his post, shooting 
from the right side of his tree, by which his body 
was protected. After having shot down two or 
three Indians, he discovered the chief lying on 
the ground loading his gun. Madell put two balls 
in his gun. He reserved his fire, and waited till 
the chief should rise to shoot. At length he raised 
his head above the grass to fire, and received the 
two balls from Madeli's gun down his throat, 
which dropped him dead upon his arms. As 
soon as the chief had fallen the war-whoop ceased, 
and the Indians determined to carry their dead 
chief with them off the field, which was contrary 
to the wishes of our men ; so for a few moments 
the battle raged anew around the body of their 
fallen chief, until H. Shoddar, a Dutchman, who 
had a large British musket, put seven rifle-balls in 
it, and fired in the midst of them, at which they 
broke and left their chief behind, though they 
carried off the rest of their dead and wounded into 
a thick canebrake just below on the river. 

" Thus ended our little battle. We learned 
afterward that thirteen Indians were killed and 
several wounded, who died soon after. We had 
two killed and three wounded : one of the wounded 
we had to bring in on a horse-litter. We also lost 
several of our horses in the engagement; but truly 
the victory was on our side. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 437 

"In reading in the "Western Methodist, some 
time since, the remarks made in Congress by the 
Hon. Mr. Peyton, of Tennessee, on the Nickojack 
expedition, it brought afresh to my mind events 
long since passed by. It called to mind the forms 
of my old companions in arms, with whom I suf- 
fered in those times of tribulation which tried 
men's souls ; but, alas ! there are few now living 
who bore a part in our early Indian wars. I con- 
cluded I would write a brief sketch of the events 
of that expedition for insertion in your very in- 
teresting paper. 

" The Indian town called Nickojack was settled 
by an amalgamation of different tribes of Indians, 
called by the general name of Chickamaugas. It 
was situated in what is now Indian Territory, 
on the south bank of the Tennessee River, at 
the base of the Lookout Mountain, between two 
creeks that disgorge their sluggish waters into 
the Tennessee. This town or Indian fort was 
called by the Indians the Yellow Jacket's Nest. 
It was the rendezvous of all the Southern as well 
as the Northern hostile warriors. Here they 
formed their plan of attack on the white settle- 
ments. They considered their situation impreg- 
nable, and boasted of being able to raise three 
thousand warriors in one day from the adjacent 
towns and forests (as we were informed by Fenel- 
stone, a half-breed, who deserted from them, gave 

4.38 Methodism in Tennessee. 

us information of their intended attack on Nash- 
ville, and was our guide when we assaulted Nicko- 
jack.) Proud and haughty in their independent 
security, they paid no attention to treaties. At 
length they became so troublesome that no alter- 
native was to be chosen between breaking them 
up or leaving the country. Tennessee, at that 
time, could not boast of men enough to insure 
success to the expedition, and at the same time 
leave enough at home to guard and protect the 
women and children. General Robertson there- 
fore sent to Kentucky for help : it was granted. 
The brave Colonel Whitley (who fell in the last 
Indian war. at the battle of the Thames) soon ap- 
peared in Nashville, with one hundred and eighty 
brave Kentuckians, well-armed and appointed. 
Our men were all ready We were joined by 
Major Ore, of East Tennessee, the commander of 
the rangers, who had been on an expedition 
searching for the Indians on the Cumberland 
Mountain. Having heard of our expedition, he 
hastened and joined us with eighty men, just as 
we were ready to start, We now numbered, in 
all, six hundred men. We took the wilderness, 
with Fenelstone for our guide. Passing on in 
good order, we reached the Tennessee River on 
the fourth day of our march, about midnight. It 
was in the month of August, about the year 1798 
— warm and sultry We commenced making a 

Methodism in Tennessee. 439 

few boats with frames of sticks, on which we 
stretched rawhides, which we had packed up 
and brought along for that purpose. While the 
boats were getting ready, two men swam across 
the river and kindled up a fire on the opposite 
shore, so as to direct us across, and the men soon 
commenced crossing. The boats carried the guns 
and the soldiers who could not swim — others swam 
across ; so that before eight o'clock in the morn- 
ing two hundred and seventy-two men had crossed 
over safely- 

"We were then four miles below Nickojack, 
and three miles above Crowtown. The morning 
was so far advanced, we could not safely w T ait for 
any more to get over, for fear of being discovered. 
We resolved to make the attack even with this 
small number. Colonel Montgomery had got over, 
and took command of the Tennessee troops, and 
Colonel Whitley of the Kentuckians. As the 
lower creek cut off our direct approach to the 
town, we had to take a circuit of seven miles, and 
cross over a spur of the mountain, so as to descend 
upon the town in the rear. We would run with 
all speed a few moments, and then lie down flat 
on the ground until we recovered our breath, and 
then we would run again. We thus soon reached 
the mountain undiscovered, and sat down and 
rested on the cliffs, quite overlooking the town. 
We sat here in gloomy silence nearly half an hour, 

440 Methodism in Tennessee. 


then slid down the rocks unperceived, and formed 
in the underwood in the rear of the town. Whit- 
ley commanded the right wing, Montgomery the 
center, and Ore the left. We advanced and found 
the Indians at breakfast. They knew nothing of 
us until they saw the flash and heard the rifles 
speak ; and then so much were they deceived, 
that the warriors near the bank of the river, when 
they heard our guns, came running with drums 
and shouting for joy, supposing that some of their 
own people had returned from a successful excur- 
sion against the whites, and were firing off their 
guns in triumph. 

" Many of the Indians were shot down upon 
the spot, and the remainder made for the river ; 
and as many as could getting into their canoes, 
and others swimming with their heads the most 
of the time under water, but when they rose to 
take breath the unerring rifle would send them 
down again, while a red gush of blood boiling up 
to the surface of the river showed too plainly that 
they would never rise again. Those in the canoes 
could not lift a hand to use their paddles : they 
lay stupefied in the bottoms of their frail barks, 
while the rifle-ball would search them out like an 
inevitable death-warrant. 

" During the space of forty-five minutes, we 
killed one hundred and forty-three Indians, took 
all the women and children we could find, and 

Methodism in Tennessee. 441 

brought them off with us as prisoners. In this 
affair we had only two men slightly wounded. 

" Longtown lay on the river, two or three miles 
above. The troops hastened on to attack it. The 
path lay along the river bank, and close under the 
ridge of the mountain. When about half way be- 
tween the two towns, the Indians made a furious 
attack upon us from the mountain above. The 
firing was quite sharp for a few minutes ; but as 
their chief lifted his head over a rock to fire, he 
was shot through the skull, and came rolling down 
the mountain like a huge lump of shapeless flesh. 
The Indians immediately fled. The brave Thomas, 
of Nashville, here got his death -wound. The 
savages, firing from above, shot him in the bosom, 
and the ball came out behind quite low down his 
back. We brought him off alive on a horse-litter, 
but he died soon after our return. 

" Our men advanced, burnt Longtown and some 

other smaller towns unopposed, as the Indians 

had all fled. We then returned and crossed over 

to our camp, without any other loss than the three 

wounded (one mortally) mentioned before. We 

took about twenty canoes, on which we put the 

wounded, the prisoners, and the goods found in 

Nickojack — for the Spanish had a store in this 

fort, and no doubt many villainous Spaniards were 

killed in the battle, who had often stirred up the 

Indians against the early American settlers. 

442 Methodism in Tennessee. 

"After the canoes had started down the river, 
a band of Indians, on the opposite side of the 
river from Nickojack, commenced an attack, but 
desisted when told by Fenelstone, in the Indian 
language, that if they fired another gun their 
women and children and prisoners should be in- 
stantly put to death. At this moment a squaw, 
who had her infant lashed to her back, sprung 
from one of the canoes and swam to the shore, in 
sight of all our troops, and made her escape. 

"Thus closed one of the days of severest fatigue 
ever experienced in the West. This day's work 
closed the Indian wars, which had raged for many 
years with great barbarity- General Robertson 
left a written notice at his camp, informing the 
Indians that if any more murders were committed 
on the whites he would raise an army, destroy all 
their towns, and burn their corn. They took 
the alarm : their stronghold was broken up, many 
of their chiefs killed, and they sued for peace. A 
treaty followed, and from that time until the last 
war they lived in peace. 

"All their prisoners were returned to them. 
The squaws informed us that they had often ad- 
vised their young men and warrior chiefs to quit 
killing the white people and stealing their horses, 
or that we would come and kill them all, but their 
men would not mind them. When they saw us 
come suddenly upon them on the morning of the 

Methodism in Tennessee. 44 3 

battle, they concluded that we came out of t the 

Mr. Gwin was an early settler in Tennessee, 
and long lived in Sumner county, near the Ken- 
tucky line. His old family- residence is still 
standing, and is in full view of the Louisville and 
Nashville Railroad, and a few miles from the 
famous Fountain Head Camp -ground. He has 
left a brief statement of his conversion and of his 
experience as a minister in early times. This 
account first appeared in the Western Methodist, 
published in Nashville. 


Under this head Mr. Gwin, in Recollections of 
the West, proceeds to say : 

"In the fall of 1791 I passed through the wil- 
derness, with about twenty families, and reached 
the Cumberland settlements in safety, though the 
Indians were very troublesome. I stopped at 
Hamilton's Station, where myself and family con- 
tinued for one year. But the wickedness of the 
place was such, that I determined to build a cabin 
in the woods, and trust in God for protection, and 
did so accordingly, and was preserved by a most 
indulgent God from the merciless savages. Soon 
after I got into my little house, which was but 
about twelve feet square, the Rev. Barnabas Mc- 
Henry, who had ventured through from the settle- 

444 Methodism in Tennessee. 

ments in Kentucky to Cumberland to take charge 
of and minister to the few followers of Christ 
scattered over this country, found his way to my 
house. Next day I went with him to his appoint- 
ment, which was about five miles off, where a 
small society had been formed by his predecessor. 
There my companion and myself joined the Church. 
At this time there were about seventy members 
belonging to the Methodist Church in all this 
country, and two local preachers — viz., Brothers 
Haw and Stevenson — and, notwithstanding all 
parts of our small settlement was surrounded by 
the Indians, yet God was with us, and the work 
of conviction and conversion went on till the year 
1795, when Brother Haw took it in his head to 
form a new Church in connection with Mr. O'Kelly, 
who had made some interruption in the Church in 
the old settlements. He commenced by preach- 
ing against the Rev. Francis Asbury, whom he 
called a Bishop, and represented as a despot, ty- 
rant, lording it over God's heritage. He some- 
times represented him as one of the horns of the 
seven-headed beast spoken of in the Bevelation, 
and condemned the discipline of the Church, which 
but a few of us had ever seen, for we had no books 
to direct us but a few copies of Mr. Wesley's Min- 
utes, which contained the General Rules, and a few 
Bibles. He spoke of Mr. O'Kelly's plan in glow- 
ing colors, which he called Republican Methodism. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 445 

"Brother Birchett had charge of the circuit 
this year. His colleague was John Dickens. The 
power of Almighty God attended their labors, and 
the work of God was spreading from station to 
station, and from neighborhood to neighborhood, 
and many were added to the Church. But, alas 
for us ! our brightening prospects were soon 
eclipsed, for Brother Birchett was called off by 
his heavenly Master from this field of labor to 
his eternal rest. No sooner were his eyes closed 
and his spirit had fled to its reward, than Mr. 
Haw set out to establish his new system, which 
we had not as yet understood. He soon succeeded 
in proselyting Brother Dickens to his way of 
thinking, and Stevenson also joined in with them. 
They then thought all was safe, and floods of 
abuse were poured out against the Bishop and 
the discipline of the Church. As we had never 
seen Bishop Asbury, from the way that he was 
represented to us, we were led to view him as 
one living away in some great city, in a large 
house, and of wealth and power, and a kind of 
king. The fact is, we were fit subjects to be im- 
posed upon : we were hunters by profession, our 
home was the wildwood, and our employment the 
chase. And though we heard the gospel, yet 
those holy men who risked their lives to come 
and preach to us had to be guarded from station 
to station ; and while we would be guarding them 

446 Methodism in Tennessee. 

from one preaching-place to another, they would 
talk to us of Jesus and heaven and the things that 
belonged to our peace ; and so strong and power- 
ful were the attachments formed for them, that 
we would have died in their defense. 

" In this way the work of reformation began in 
this land of darkness ; for the first-fruits of Meth- 
odism in this country was one of our hunters — a 
case that ought not to be forgotten. A Mr. Lewis 
Crane, who was guarding one of our preachers to 
his appointment, and while the preacher was lay- 
ing the plan of salvation before him and talking 
of what Jesus had done for a lost world, he was 
awakened to a sense of his danger, and never 
rested till he embraced religion. 

" But — to return to the subject — Messrs. Haw, 
Dickens, and Stevenson united and made a power- 
ful effort to sweep the Church and bring them all 
over to their way of thinking. Haw went into 
the work fully He appointed meetings, and in- 
vited us to attend ; he appointed sacramental- 
meetings, and invited all who wished to join his 
Church to commune with him ; but, strange to tell, 
not a single individual joined him on his first 
round of meetings, and before he got round a sec- 
ond time, Brother William Burke came on to take 
charge of the Church. He called on Haw and 
others to account for their conduct, as they had 
endeavored to destroy the Church. Haw ap- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 447 

peared at our first quarterly- meeting, prepared 
to defend himself and his new notions of Church- 
government, though none of the rest attended. 
Burke was a young man, and a stranger. Haw 
was an old preacher, and among the first who 
ever preached in this section of country, and had 
the affections of the Church generally before his 
sudden and strong movements against it. He 
was also a man of talents and experience. The 
Church was much confused, and lay, as it were, 
in sackcloth. Alarmed at the approaching con- 
test, lest the young man should not be able to 
contend with Haw, as he had many advantages 
over him, though we had determined not to follow 
Haw until we saw what kind of a Church he was 
going to have — but that we should stick together, 
and live by the rules we had until we could get 
more help. But the time had arrived when mat- 
ters had to be settled — which government was 
the best, the old or the new- The Church met, 
and Brother Haw made his defense, such as it 
was, for he was very much confused. Burke an- 
swered all his objections in a masterly manner, 
and gave us some idea of the origin of Methodism, 
the nature of its government, and wiped away all 
the slander that had been thrown out against the 
Bishop. He managed the whole affair so well, 
and with so much ability and prudence, that 
Brother Haw did not attempt to answer him/but 

448 Methodism in Tennessee. 

took up the Westminster Confession of Faith, 
which he had brought with him to prove that our 
government was wrong, and observed that he was 
not a member of the Methodist Church, and that 
we had no right to try him, and so left the house 
and returned no more. Soon after this, Messrs. 
Raney and Stringer, two of Mr. O'Kelly's strong 
men, came on with a horse-load of books, written 
against the Bishop and our government, to assist 
Haw, supposing, no doubt, that many had joined 
him ; but, to their great mortification, he had 
not so much as converted his wife over to his 

" While thinking over these things my heart 
swells with grief, and sorrow takes hold of my 
soul to reflect that Brother Haw, who was the 
apostle of the West, and had at one time a large 
share of the affections of the Church, should sink 
clown into a state of gloom and melancholy, and 
at last die in obscurity Stevenson went into 
gross wickedness, I have learned ; and Dickens 
also. Woe unto him who strikes his mother ! 
After this gloomy season was over, the work of 
God revived again under Brother Burke. The Lord 
rewarded him by blessing his labors in a glorious 
manner, and hundreds were added to the Church, 
and the work deepened and extended until the 
gospel flame broke forth under the ministry of 
Brothers McGee, Page, and Wilkerson, and con- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 449 

tinued most gloriously for three years, and, indeed, 
has never yet ceased. 

"In the year 1800, Brother William McKen- 
dree came on to this country in company with 
Bishop Asbury, who came to look over the state 
of the Church. Their visit to us was of vast im- 
portance, for they brought with them not only the 
first order of talents, but unexampled piety ; and 
instead of finding the Bishop a monster, as the 
reformers had represented him to be, we found 
him meek and humble, wholly given up to the 
work of the Lord. They were now enabled to 
take a view of the vast field which was rapidly 
filling up by the strong tide of emigration to the 

" Brother McKendree was appointed to preside 
over the western end of the work, and soon formed 
a plan to carry the gospel into every neighbor- 
hood. He employed as many local preachers and 
exhorters as he could, to visit the uncultivated 
regions ; and they went forth, and the Lord went 
with them, and the tidings of salvation were soon 
heard in almost every settlement. Here I would 
observe that the fine talents and great zeal of 
Brother John McGee fitted him well for useful- 
ness, and enabled him to do much good. Brother 
McKendree, on his way from Kentucky to Cum- 
berland, found a settlement in the Barrens, on the 
waters of Buck Creek, and made an appointment 

450 Methodism in Tennessee. 

for Brother McGee to meet him there on his next 
round on his District ; and in the course of the 
year a society was formed there, and a gracious 
work commenced, and they built a church ; but as 
it was in the Barrens, where the timber was low, 
losrs could not be found of sufficient length to 
build a four-square house large enough to hold 
the congregation, and they built a house with 
twelve corners. 

"As I about this time commenced speaking in 
public, I was appointed by Brother McKendree 
to visit the new settlements, and went according 
to his direction, and continued preaching from 
place to place till our Annual Conference came on, 
which was held in Sumner county, Tennessee — at 
which I was received into the traveling connec- 
tion on trial. 

" The business of Brother Walker and myself, 
who were received at the same Conference, was 
to enlarge the work, as there was at this time but 
one circuit in all this country Brother "Walker 
proceeded to form the Red River Circuit, while I 
was forming the Barren Circuit, which I traveled 
for six months, and would have continued on it 
longer, but was compelled to stop in consequence 
of temporal matters, for in those days we had to 
get on as we could, as there was but little money 
amongst us. We had also great difficulty in get- 
ting from one preaching-place to another. We 

Methodism in Tennessee. 451 

had to swim creeks and rivers, and lie out at 
night, and often we were as ' the voice of one cry- 
ing in the wilderness;' and though we did not 
live on locusts and wild honey, yet we did live on 
the flesh of wild beasts and such articles of diet 
as could be collected from the forest. Our oppor- 
tunity for study was not good, for the inhabitants 
were generally poor, and their houses small and 
badly furnished; and as for books suitable for a 
minister, there were none except the Bible, and 
that, with the wide field of nature, was our source 
of information, and our time for study was while 
we were beating the meandering paths that led 
from one preaching-place to another ; but all this 
was tolerable while the Lord was with us, and his 
pleasure prospering in our hands ; and did not our 
hearts leap for joy when w T e saw the desert rejoice 
and the wilderness blossom as the rose ? 

"As soon as I had provided for the subsistence 
of my family, I set out again and visited the 
societies I had formed. The work spread and 
increased rapidly, and Green River and Roaring 
River Circuits were formed next, and the blessed 
work continued extending east and south', and 
Brother Walker went on forming circuits west 
and north till he reached the Ohio River; and 
Brother McKendree devised a plan to carry the 
gospel into the settlement west of the Ohio on to 
the Mississippi; and as the Louisiana country 

452 Methodism in Tennessee. 

had been purchased and brought under our Gov- 
ernment, he sent Brothers Walker and Lewis to 
make a trial in that region, where they soon suc- 
ceeded in planting the standard of the cross. 

" In the year 1807, Brother McKendree,. A. 
Godard, and myself, set out to visit the settle- 
ments in Illinois. We crossed the Ohio, and took 
the wilderness, and traveled on till night. Not 
being able to get to any habitation, we had to 
camp out. Brother McKendree made us some 
tea, and we lay down under the branches of a 
friendly beech, and had a pleasant night's rest. 
Next morning we set out early, traveled hard, 
and got some distance into the prairie, and here 
we took up for the night. This was a night of 
trouble. After we had taken a morsel to eat, and 
offered up our prayers to Almighty God, we lay 
down to rest, and fell into a deep sleep. About 
eleven o'clock Brother McKendree awoke and 
found that our horses were all gone. After some 
search, we found that they had passed over a 
small stream that was near by, and had gone 
back the way we came. Not knowing whether 
they were stolen or had left us of their own ac- 
cord, Brother Godard and myself, leaving Brother 
McKendree at our camping -place, set out after 
them. As the night was dark, we got dry bark, 
which afforded us a tolerable light. We took 
their track, and followed them across the prairie ; 

Methodism in Tennessee. 453 

and having obtained a sufficient quantity of bark, 
we were enabled to follow them till daylight, and 
continued our pursuit till we overtook them, which 
was about eight o'clock a.m., having traveled 
about fifteen miles on foot, and had to go the 
same distance back. This day we were enabled 
to reach the first settlement, where two families 
lived. We tarried with them one day, and on the 
next morning we set out quite early, and passed 
the eight-mile prairie, crossed Kaskaskia River, 
and reached Turkey Hill and lodged with an old 
Brother Scott. Here we met with Brother Walker, 
who had formed a circuit, and had three camp- 
meetings appointed for us. After resting a few 
days, we set out for the first camp-meeting, and, 
after traveling about twelve miles, we arrived on 
the banks of the Mississippi, and having no way 
to get our horses across, we sent them back to 
Brother Scott's, crossed the river, and, with our 
baggage on our shoulders, went on foot to the 
camp-ground, and on our way we called on Brother 
Johnston, who had recently been converted to 
God, where we met with Brother Travis. This 
young man, w T ith the aid of Brother Walker, ven- 
tured across the Mississippi into a country where 
the gospel had never been preached, and took up 
with Mr. Johnston, who was considered the most 
wicked man in all the country, though very kind 
to the preachers; and it pleased God to make him 

454 Methodism in Tennessee. 

the first-fruit of their labors. At our first meet- 
ing the work seemed rather dull, till on Sabbath, 
at which time God honored and blessed his word 
in an uncommon manner. A sudden and divine 
shock of the Almighty's power fell upon the con- 
gregation. Some fell to the ground as dead, and 
others ran off in great haste, and never returned. 
This was late in the evening, and the work went 
on gloriously till the close of the meeting, and 
about forty persons w T ere brought to a knowledge 
of Jesus, and enabled to tell that God had power 
on earth to forgive sins. 

" From this camp-meeting we returned across 

the river to Judge S 's. This gentleman was 

very kind to us : Ave were strangers, and he took 
us in; hungry, and he gave us meat; and on foot, 
and he sent his cart with us to carry our baggage 
to Brother Garrettson's, where our next camp- 
meeting was to be held, which was called the 
Three Springs. We arrived on Friday morning 
on the camp - ground, which was situated in a 
beautiful grove surrounded by a prairie. A con- 
siderable congregation had collected, for the news 
of the other meeting had gone abroad and pro- 
duced much excitement. Some were in favor of 
the work, while others were greatly opposed to it. 
A certain Major had raised a company of lewd fel- 
lows of the baser sort to drive us off the ground. 
On Saturday, while I was preaching, at eleven 

Methodism in Tennessee. 455 

o'clock, the Major and his followers approached 
and rode up into the congregation and halted, which 
produced considerable confusion and alarm. I 
stopped preaching for a moment, and quite calmly 
invited them to be off with themselves, and they 
immediately retired to the spring to take a fresh 
supply of brandy The Major said he had heard 
of these Methodist folks before — -that they always 
break up the peace of the people wherever they 
went; that they preached against horse-racing and 
card-playing, and every kind of amusement that the 
people were in the habit of indulging in. How- 
ever, they used no violence against us, but deter- 
mined to camp on the ground, and use their influ- 
ence to prevent us from doing any harm. But it 
pleased the Lord to make bare his arm, and his 
power came down as the rushing of a mighty 
wind. This was after the three-o'clock preaching, 
while Brother Godard and myself were singing a 
hymn of praise to God. 

"About the time that an awful sense of the 
Divine presence fell upon the congregation, a man 
with a terrific look ran up to me, and said, ' Sir, 
are you the man that keeps the roll ?' I asked 
him what roll. ' That roll,' said he, ' that people 
put their names to that are going to heaven.' I 
supposed he meant the class-book, and sent him 
to Brother Walker; so he turned to Brother 
Walker, and said, ' Set down mv name, if you 

456 Methodism in Tennessee. 

please/ and then fell to the ground. Others 
started to run off, and fell by the way ; while 
others made their escape. We now had enough 
to do to gather the wounded to one place, which 
we effected about the going down of the sun, at 
which time the man who wished his name set 
down upon the roll, as he called it, arose and ran 
off like a wild beast. While I looked around me 
and saw the numbers that were lying on the 
ground as dead men, and listened to the groans, 
cries, and lamentations of the mourning, I could 
but think of the field of battle after a heavy en- 
gagement was over. The struggle was hard with 
many, but toward day it pleased the good Lord, 
who has promised pardon and peace to the peni- 
tent, to knock off their chains and set the pris- 
oners free : the blind received sight, the lame 
walked, and those who were dead in sin were 
raised up to life, and times of refreshing and re- 
joicing came from the presence of the Lord. 

" We continued to weep with those Avho wept, 
and to rejoice with those who did rejoice, till day- 
light, which ushered in a Sabbath morning, ac- 
companied with more charms, I thought, than any 
I had ever seen before. The birds sariff melodi- 


ously in the branches of the friendly trees, while 
the dewdrops gently descended upon us, and, 
like so many gems, bespangled the grass in the 
wide -spreading prairie; while the morning sun 

Methodism in Tennessee. 457 

arose and threw his light abroad from a cloudless 
sky : all this, together with the bursts of praises 
and loud hallelujahs which flowed from the hearts 
and tongues of the new-born sons and daughters 
of Zion, so changed the place, that instead of 
likening it to the field of battle, I thought in 
some remote sense it resembled man's wanted 

"A little after the rising of the sun, the man 
who ran off the evening before came back, wet 
with the dew of the night, under strong symp- 
toms of derangement. At eleven o'clock the sacra- 
ment of the Lord's-supper was administered, and 
the Major and his men attended. Several of them 
seemed affected. While Brother McKendree was 
dwelling on the nature of this solemn feast, the 
Sun of righteousness, with healing in his wings, 
rose upon us, and we had a feeling, melting time. 
The people on this day came from all parts of the 
country, and at eleven o'clock there was a large 
congregation : all the leading men of the country 
were present. Brother McKendree preached to 
them on ''Come and let us reason together/ and 
perhaps no man ever managed a subject better, 
and to better effect. His reasoning on the atone- 
ment, the plan of salvation, and the love of God 
to fallen man, was so strong and cogent, and de- 
livered with such pathos, that the congregation 
involuntarily arose to their feet and pressed to- 

458 Methodism in Tennessee. 

ward him from all quarters; and while he was 
preaching, he very ingeniously noticed the conduct 
of the Major and his company, and remarked that 
we were Americans, and that some of us had 
fought for our liberty, and that we had come to 
that place to teach men the way to heaven. This 
seemed to panic- strike the Major : he afterward 
became friendly, and has remained so ever since. 
" This was a great day of the Son of man : the 
work became general, and the evening of this day 
was exceedingly awful, and many souls were born 
of God ; and among the rest, our wild man was 
most powerfully converted to God. There is 
something in connection with this man's experi- 
ence that ought to be told, which has not hitherto 
been noticed. He lived in the American bottom, 
and was possessed of a fine estate, and was a 
deist by profession. He told us that a few nights 
before we passed his house, he dreamed that the 
day of judgment was about to come, and that 
there were three men sent on from the East to 
warn the people of the approaching event; and 
that as soon as he saw us, it struck him that we 
were the men whom he had seen in his dream, and 
that he became desperately alarmed, and began to 
make inquiry about us : who we were, from whence, 
and what our business was ; and having obtained 
the necessary information about us, he set out for 
the camp-meeting, and did as above noticed — only 

Methodism in Tennessee. 459 

that he became a member of the Church and a re- 
formed man. 

"We went next to Goshen Camp-meeting, at 
which place we arrived on Friday morning. Here 
we found comfortable camps, and an arbor large 
enough to hold or shelter six or seven hundred 
people. This arbor was built in the form of an 
L. The stand was erected in an unsheltered 
spot, between the two squares, so that the congre- 
gation could sit under each wing and hear preach- 
ing. We had also a small log meeting-house built 
near the camp-ground, in which we held our first 
Quarterly-meeting Conference. Preaching com- 
menced on Friday, and was kept up regularly at 
stated hours. The work of God at our two pre- 
vious meetings was spread abroad, and such w x as 
the excitement produced among the people that 
they came in all directions, on horseback, wagons, 
carts, and many on foot, to see what was going 
on, for the work of repentance and conversion to 
God was new and strange. Some brought with 
them their brandy and cards to amuse themselves 
with during the meeting. 

"On Friday and Saturday an awful cloud hung 
over us, and the word preached seemed to have 
no effect, which made my soul mourn. In passing 
the door of the preacher's tent, I saw Brother 
McKendree, all alone, bathed in tears. I stepped 
in, and after a few moments, he said to me, 

460 Methodism in Tennessee. 

'Brother, we have been preaching for ourselves and 
not for God, and have missed the mark. Go, 
brother,' he said to me, ' and preach Jesus Christ 
and him crucified to the people: My heart was 
deeply affected with his remarks, and the deep 
travail of soul that he felt for the congregation. 
We fell upon our knees and implored the help of 
Almighty God : this was about sunset. Soon the 
candles were lighted up and the congregation as- 
sembled for preaching, and in preaching to them 
I took for my text, 'Behold the man! In a short 
time after I began to preach it commenced raining, 
though the congregation was not interrupted by 
it, for the most of them were under the arbor. 
But as the stand was without a shelter, I con- 
tinued to preach while the blessed rain descended 
upon me. I think I had been speaking of the 
character and sufferings of our blessed Saviour 
about half an hour, when a cloud of divine mercy 
gathered over us, and blessings were showered 
down upon the congregation. My heart seemed 
to be fired anew, and my tongue was loosed in 
an unusual manner, and for a few moments there 
was nothing heard among the people but sighs and 
sobs, till at length the whole congregation seemed 
suddenly smitten with divine power. Many fell 
as in battle, and by singing and prayer, and in 
every way we could, we assisted those who were 
seeking God • and as fast they would embrace 

Methodism in Tennessee. 461 

religion they would arise and tell what the Lord 
had done for them ; and encourage others to trust 
in God, which was a great help to us in carrying 
on the work. We continued all night laboring 
with the mourning, and rejoicing with those who 
had been brought from darkness to light. 

"On the next day, at nine o'clock a.m., the Lord's- 
supper was administered, which was a time long 
to be remembered by many Yes, this was a 
day of divine power, and great eternity alone 
can tell the good that was done. One conversion 
in particular deserves to be noticed. An Indian 
of the Chickamauga tribe, who had been on a 
hunting tour, fell in with us at our camp-meet- 
ing. I will give his own account of his conver- 
sion as nearly as I can. Said he, * When I saw so 
many people together, I thought I would stop and 
get some whisky; and while you were talking in 
the rain, I was standing by a sapling, and there 
came on me a mighty weight, which was heavier 
than I could stand under, and I caught the sap- 
ling with my hands, and my hands would not 
hold the sapling, and I fell upon the ground ; and 
while there, a blackness came over me, and I was 
afraid and tried to get away, but could not until 
about daylight, and then I went to a fire to dry 
myself, for I was wet with the rain. I thought I 
had been drunk, and I thought strange of that, for 
I had not drunk any thing. I thought I would 

462 Mdhodism in Tennessee. 

not go back ; but when they began to sing, some- 
thing drew me back, and before I knew it I was 
among them again; and the same weight came 
upon me, and the blackness came over me again, 
and I fell to the ground and thought I was going 
to die. I tried to get up, but I was so weak I 
could not. At last a white man came and talked 
over me, and while he w T as talking, it got lighter, 
and every thing looked whiter than the sun could 
make it look, and it seemed that one thing brighter 
than the light got between me and the darkness, 
and the heavy load that was on me and the dark- 
ness all left me, and I felt glad in my heart, and 
jumped up and felt light.' 

"At this moment I, for the first time, noticed 
this man. I was in the stand exhorting, and saw 
him jumping and clapping his hands, and saying, 
i Good I good I good? We made arrangements to 
send him to school, and after he had learned to 
read and write, he said that from the time he was 
delivered there was a light with him, and that his 
way seemed clear till he determined one day to 
kill John, a black man, and something in him 
said that he must not kill John, and he said he 
would, for John had told lies on him; and then 
he said the light left him, and it seemed to get 
dark before him, and he turned back and would not 
kill John, though he had started to do it, and that 
it was some time before the light came back again. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 463 

" But to return : On Monday, the last day, one 
hundred joined the Church. On Tuesday morn- 
ing we set out and returned to Brother Scott's, 
where we had left our horses, and on the next 
day started for home. On our last day's journey 
through the wilderness, we had it in contempla- 
tion to stay all night in a certain grove; but 
before night we learned that it was not a safe 
place, and we concluded to go on five miles 
farther, and arrived there some time after dark. 
After we had put up our horses and went to the 
house, the dogs broke out and ran in the direction 
of the stable, upon which the gentleman of the 
house asked us if we saw any men at a certain 
house which we passed, and we told him we did : 
he then said our horses were in danger ; so God- 
ard and myself went out and took our horses out 
of the stable and turned them into the yard, and 
as the night was dark, w r e set fire to a large pile 
of logs that w T as in the yard, which gave us light 
all night. We borrowed the gentleman's rifle, 
and Godard and myself w T atched our horses till 
morning, taking it by turns; so when daylight 
returned we set out on our journey, crossed the 
Ohio, and came on home, having been absent 
about two months. From this visit the work of 
God spread, and continued as far as the country 
is settled, by the labor of our itinerant minis- 

464 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Mr. Gwin, as a local and itinerant preacher, ac- 
complished much good. Most of his time he la- 
bored in Tennessee — on the Nashville Circuit, the 
Red River Circuit, the Fountain Head Circuit, 
the Cumberland and Caney Fork Districts, and 
in the city of Nashville — as general missionary, 
and as missionary to the colored people. In all 
these fields he performed much hard labor, and 
won many souls to. Christ. Mr. Gwin was a dele- 
gate to the General Conference in 1828. In 1838, 
his children having removed to the South, he was 
left without an appointment, and permitted to 
spend his time in Louisiana and Mississippi. In 
1839 he located, and permanently settled in Mis- 
sissippi. In 1840, he was readmitted into the 
traveling connection, and took an appointment in 
the Mississippi Conference, and was stationed at 
Yicksburg, with the Rev Preston Cooper. Here 
Mr. Gwin ended his long and useful life. He 
died on the 3d of August, 1841, at the rising of 
the sun, aged seventy-two years. His last words 
were : " I die in peace. I have unshaken confi- 
dence in my Maker, and trust, without doubt, in 
Jesus Christ." 

Mrs. Gwin was one of the excellent of the 
earth — plain in manners, simple in heart, and 
full of affection. She joined the Church with her 
husband, and all along his ministerial life she had 
been his help in the arduous work of preaching 

Methodism in Tennessee. 465 

the gospel. In her declining years she had a 
great trial, and a happy deliverance out of her 
pungent grief. The following letter, entitled 
"Gloom and Glory," published in the Western 
Methodist, February 7, 1834, will explain itself, 
and cannot be read without emotion : 

My Dear Son: — These lines are from your 
mother ; and for me to give you a history of my 
feelings for the last few days is impossible. No 
painter could mix colors sufficiently dark to give 
the slightest shade of that gloomy cloud that has 
been hanging about my mind. For the last year 
and a half, the unwelcome tidings that have 
reached my ears ! First, the death of Mr. Moore ; 
next, Nancy's departure opened the unhealed 
wound; then little James, I understood, was no 
more; and soon little Mary Frances followed 
him ; and then came a heavier blow than ever, in 
the death of my son Thomas, which caused all the 
veins of grief to bleed anew and break up, as I 
supposed, grief's deepest fountain. And before 
my poor heart had time even to begin to heal, 
another tie was broken in the death of Caroline,* 
on which name you need no comment : her name is 
written on your heart ; you loved her while she 

* Caroline was the beloved wife of the one to whom the 
letter is addressed. 

466 Methodism in Tennessee. 

lived; you love her memory still. Then three 
months were allowed to pass by without bringing 
any sad tidings to my ears, and I bore all my 
afflictions the best way I could. I gave up all to 
God, and bowed and kissed the rod. These deaths 
were all in nature's course, and their graves might 
in some degree be considered timely The sickly 
season was overpast, and those of my children 
that yet lived had been restored to health, and I 
comforted myself in a degree with the hope that 
the afflictions in my family would be sanctified to 
the salvation of those of my children that were 
unconverted; and your letters, my son, had a 
tendency to console me, for they were of a dif- 
ferent character from what they once were : you 
wrote of prayer, and God, and heaven, and I 
with prayerful solicitude Avas waiting to hear 
that you was brought to God and on your way to 

Thus I contended with my tears and hoped for 
the best. I was without a child on which to 
look. All were absent ; and he, by whom I had 
been comforted and supported amid the gloom, 
sorrows, and cares through which I have had to 
pass in the last forty-four years, that now look 
down upon me, had gone to the far West to see 
the children. Separated from husband and chil- 
dren in person, I spent my time in thinking first 
of one and then another, and with much anxiety 

Methodism in Tennessee. 467 

was looking forward to the time when I should 
be united to my family again. But 

a letter was put into my hands ! that letter ! 
Did a scrap of paper ever contain such dreadful 
news before ! "Dr. William Gwin, son of that 
good old prelate, Parson Gwin, is no more /" And I 
soon learned that he had fallen in a duel. What 
heart-rending words ! How hard to think that 
that child which I had so tenderly nursed, and a 
thousand times pressed to my bosom, and as 
often presented to God on the arms of faith and 
prayer, should fall thus, and in a moment be hur T 
ried into eternity ! I could not bear to pursue 
the thought — the dreadful thought ! yet nothing 
else for one moment could dwell on my mind. 
My friends came to mourn with me, or rather to 
comfort me, but there was no point within the 
range of thought upon which to fix. All — all 
was dark. The loss was full — there was not the 
least reserve. Beyond the grave there was no 
place for hope. A duel ! The kind of death 
had cut off that last — that lingering hope which 
reaches forward after departed friends. I could 
not say, It is the work of God, and let his will be 
done. I could not blame my child, for that would 
be complaint against the dead. I therefore saw 
now no end to my grief, and five long gloomy 
days and sleepless nights passed away Dreadful 
days ! I am glad you 're gone. 

468 Methodism in Tennessee. 

It was night. All was still as death, save the 
old clock, which in its swing ticked to the passing 
moments ; it had just told ten o'clock. The ser- 
vants were all asleep. I sat beside my lonely 
fire which seemed to burn with murky sadness. 
I heard a knocking at my door; but my fears 
were all upon me, and I was afraid to open. I 
lifted a window in order to see who it was that 
had come to break in upon my hours of woe, and 
I saw a servant standing at the door : he said not 
a word, but held up in his hand what seemed a 
letter. I opened the door, took the letter, and 
the servant departed. I looked first to its seal, 
but it was not the insignia of death ; but as the 
gtoomy side of the picture was alone before me, I 
supposed that as I had in a short time received so 
many, the writer was disposed to spare me when 
and where he could ; but when I unfolded, and 
saw that it was the hand-writing of my oivn dear 
son William, with what eagerness I devoured its 
contents ! What lovely lines ! What pretty 
words I read! "The difficulty, is made up. My 
antagonist refused to meet me in the field, and ive 
had no combat : my enemies are at peace ivith me. 
1 am well, and all is well and doing well!' 

I wept still, but my tears were sweet: they 
were tears of joy I read the letter over and 
over again, until I knew it all by heart. I pressed 
it to my poor but gladdened bosom. A welcome 

Methodism in Tennessee. 469 

letter! it must have done you good to write it; I 
bless the mail that brought it ; and I would gladly 
do the poor servant a favor that gave it me. His 
visit, at first, seemed untimely; but it was an 
angel visit. Now I am well — though a few hours 
ago I could neither eat nor sleep, and was passing 
on with the strong tide of grief rapidly to my 
grave, into which I should have soon sunk down 
but for the happy change. my son, remember 
the God of thy fathers ; and that after death there 
is a judgment, and after time there is eternity! May 
God bless you, my dear child ! All is well. 

Your mother, Mary Gwin. 

February 1, 1834. 

Mrs. Gwin survived her husband, but has since 
gone to her reward. 

470 Methodism in Tennessee. 


Increase in numbers — Jacob Young's early recollections — 
Cumberland District — The hinderances— Triumphs of the 
cause — Lewis Garrett's Recollections — Anthony Houston 
— The Rev. Thomas Martin — Mount Zion Church— The 
Rev. Jacob Young : his travels in East Tennessee— Peter 
Cartwright — " Theophilus Arminius " — Learner Black- 
man's account of the work — Statistics — Conclusion. 

The Conference this year (1804) convened at 
Mount Gerizim, Kentucky It will be remem- 
bered that the session commenced October 2, 
1803, and the Appointments went over till Octo- 
ber, 1804. Unless the mind is kept upon this 
point, the reader will be led into error as to 

There was an increase in the membership this 
year. The returns from the Western Conference 
showed an aggregate of 9,082 whites, and 518 col- 
ored. On Holston, 780 whites, 25 colored ; Noli- 
chucky, 636 whites, 35 colored ; French Broad, 
648 whites, 14 colored; Clinch, 500 whites, 53 
colored ; Powell's Valley, 70 whites ; Nashville, 
637 whites, 87 colored; Red River, 289 whites, 
20 colored. 

The Rev Jacob Young, in his Autobiography, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 471 

oives an interesting account of this meeting of the 
Conference. He says : 

"The Conference was held in the house of 
Benjamin Coleman, near Cynthiana, Kentucky 
Next morning I repaired to the Conference-room, 
which was about eighteen feet square, and up- 
stairs. I was met at the door by Mrs. Burke, 
wife of William Burke. She has long since gone 
to her reward, and he has since followed. She 
was an accomplished lady I was dressed like a 
backwoodsman. My manners and costume were 
answerable to the description given of 6 Rhoderick 
Dhu,' of Scotland, by Walter Scott. I was pretty 
much such another looking man. Mrs. Burke 
told me to walk up, but I hesitated — she insisted. 
At length I yielded — ascended the stairs, and 
entered the Conference-room. There, for the first 
time, I saw the venerable Asbury, seated on a 
chair elevated by a small platform. He was 
writing — his head white as a sheet. Several of 
the preachers said, ' Come in, come in, Brother 
Young.' The Bishop raised his head, lifted his 
spectacles, and asked who I was. The Rev W 
McKendree told him my name. He fixed his eye 
upon me as if he would look me through. McKen- 
dree saw I was embarrassed, and told me kindly 
to take a seat. 

" Business went on, and I sat as a silent spec- 
tator. I thought they were the most interesting 

472 Methodism in Tennessee. 

group of men I had ever seen. McKendree 
appeared the master-spirit of the Conference. 
Burke, very neatly dressed, was secretary His 
auburn head, keen, black eye, showed clearly he 
was no ordinary man. 

" I still remember most of the members' names 
— Revs. Thomas Wilkerson, John Watson, Ben- 
jamin Lakin, Samuel Douthet, John Adam Gran- 
ade, Lewis Garrett, William Crutchfield, Benjamin 
Young, Ralph Lotspiech, Anthony Houston, and 
some few more not now recollected. 

" These were members of the great Western Con- 
ference, comprehending Kentucky, Ohio, South- 
western Virginia, old Tennessee, and the Missis- 
sippi Territory- This year they sent missionaries 
to Illinois and Indiana. In a beautiful grove, a 
mile from Mr. Coleman's, they erected a stand 
and seats to accommodate a congregation. The 
Conference adjourned every day, that the preach- 
ers might attend public services. As I was not 
in full connection, I had no seat in Conference ; 
but I was free to go and come as I pleased. We 
kept up prayer - meetings nearly all the time. 
There was a great deal of good preaching during 
the session, and I have no doubt but much good 
was done at that time. There was an extensive 
revival all through Kentucky 

" On Sabbath, Bishop Asbury preached one 
of his masterly sermons to about ten thousand 

Methodism in Tennessee. 473 

listeners. This was a very solemn and profitable 


The Appointments were : 

Holston District. — John Watson, P E. ; Hol- 
ston, Thomas Milligan's station was changed last 
year to Clinch; Nolichucky, Samuel Douthet; 
French Broad, John Johnson ; New River, Elisha 
W Bowman ; Clinch, Joab Watson ; Powell's Val- 
ley, Moses Black ; Wilderness, Jacob Young. 

Cumberland District. — Lewis Garrett, P E. ; 
Nashville, Levin Edney ; Red River, Ralph 
Lotspiech; Barren, Anthony Houston; Wayne, 
William Crutchfield ; Livingston, Jesse Walker ; 
Natchez, Moses Floyd. 

H. Harrison, A. Amos, Tobias Gibson, super- 

Illinois. — Benjamin Young, missionary 

This was a very prosperous year in what we 
now call Middle Tennessee, or, as it was then 
called, " Cumberland," as well as in East Tennes- 
see, or " Holston." The author will confer a favor 
on the reader by copying from the Recollections 
of the Rev Lewis Garrett his account of his 
labors, trials, sufferings, and success on the Cum- 
berland District during this and the succeeding 
year. The account was published in 1834 : 

" But we will return to Cumberland District, 
where the writer of these sketches traveled dur- 
ing the years 1804 and 1805, and where there 

474 Methodism in Tennessee. 

was much to encourage and cheer the preachers 
who gloried in the cross of Christ, and delighted 
to see the travail of a Redeemer's soul coming 
home to God, and the pleasure of the Lord pros- 
pering in their hands. I had in former years, in 
Old Virginia, North Carolina, and the old settle- 
ments of Kentucky, been troubled on seeing so- 
cieties thinned by emigration; but here I saw 
that the hand of an overruling and unerring Prov- 
idence directed to happy results. Here and there 
we found individuals and families who had been 
members of Society, and were now glad to see the 
traveling preachers, and open their doors to re- 
ceive the gospel. By this means new societies 
were raised, circuits formed, the work of the Lord 
spread, and much good was done. But notwith- 
standing those cheering prospects and encouraging 
successes, there was much to try the fortitude of 
those houseless traveling preachers who pene- 
trated those western wilds and planted the gospel 
in the Valley of the Mississippi. Their hardships 
and toils were such as cannot well be conceived 
of, much less described — hard and constant labor 
day and night, seldom a comfortable night's re- 
pose, scarcely any thing to suit a feeble appetite, 
or to nourish or sustain weak human nature, worn 
dowm by travel, exposure, and toil. If sick, no 
physician or medicine to be had ; bare of clothing, 
and that scanty supply wearing out, and no money 

Methodism in Tennessee. 475 

to purchase more ; no missionary funds to apply 
to for relief; no well -improved towns or fine 
chapels to resort to, to lounge in, or strut about, 
and, with empty vaporing, talk and write about 
f moral wastes ' that they had never seen, or that 
they were too delicate to approach. No, truly, they 
were missionaries of a different stamp. Timid- 
ity, false delicacy, and ' needless self-indulgence,' 
they stood aloof from, as inconsistent with itiner- 
ant Methodism and the heroic and unflinching 
spirit of apostolic ministers, sent out upon an im- 
mortal enterprise — to go e into the hedges and 
highways' and preach the unsearchable riches of 
Christ to the poor and destitute. But ah, hoAV it 
excites disgust, and raises one's indignation, to see 
some self-sufficient, self-important men, entering 
into the fields already cleared, piquing themselves 
upon their talents and refinement, and attempting 
to cast into the shade plain pioneers, and all that 
has been achieved by clearing the forest, opening 
pathways in the desert, and laying (through the 
blood of the cross and the preaching of the gospel) 
a foundation whereon to rear a beautiful super- 
structure ! 

" Let not those who have ' entered into other 
men's labors' be inflated with pride, because they 
possess greater talents or inherit greater advan- 
tages than those of days gone by- Let them not 
swell with vanity, and say, 'See what a dust I 

476 Methodism in Tennessee. 

raise /' because they can preach an elegant sermon 
and please a fashionable congregation, while all is 
dull, dry, and formal around them. Let them not 
indulge a silly, fond conceit of their accomplish- 
ments and display in presence of their God, while 
their flock is hungiy for the bread of life. Let 
them walk about Zion, reared up in these western 
regions; let them tell the towers thereof ; let them 
consider her palaces, and tell to the generations 
following (ascribing all the honor to God) who and 
what kind of workmen cleared away the rubbish, 
aided in laying the foundation and hewing out 
the materials ; and let no one forget the hole of the 
pit from whence he was digged^ or depart from the 
simplicity of the gospel. 

"Had you seen those ardent workmen, who 
6 needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the 
word of truth' — in a sense preparing a highway 
for our God — and opening the way for the future 
glory of the Church in this great valley, you would 
perhaps have been reminded of the inimitable pic- 
ture drawn by Cowper of the preacher, ' such as 
Paul, were he on earth, would hear, approve, and 
own.' They were 

" ' Simple, grave, sincere ; 

In doctrine uncorrupt, in language plain, 

And plain in manner ; 

Much impressed, as conscious of their awful charge, 

And anxious, mainly, that the flock they feed 

May feel it too.' 

Methodism in Tennessee. 477 

" They were deeply imbued with the spirit of 
their high and holy calling, and carried with them 
into every family and circle their ministerial grav- 
ity, and a solemn sense of the presence of God 
and of the awful and responsible nature of their 
mission. The woods (for they seldom had closets 
or rooms) witnessed their ardent supplications and 
tears. Reading, meditation, and prayer employed 
the hours of respite from travel and public minis- 
trations — no chaify or unprofitable conversation, 
no idle or useless visits, no foppish gallanting. 
Walking with God, they prayed in public, as one 
said, 'right up in heaven,' and preached the gos- 
pel with an e ardor not their own ;' and God 
wrought mightily by them — in a way. to be sure. 
that might not well suit some of the nominal Chris- 
tians of this day, who have the form, but, alas ' 
too little of the power of godliness. 

" We brought to view in a former sketch some 
of the difficulties as well as the pleasing and en- 
couraging prospects on Cumberland District in 
1804-5. There were other difficulties of a more 
unpleasant character with which we had to con- 
tend ; and here we must be permitted to remark, 
without intending the slightest disparagement to 
any religious sect, that barefaced Antinomianism 
had taken precedency in many parts of this new 
country, and especially in what was then termed 
New Kentucky When we offered a bleeding Sav- 

478 Methodism m Tennessee. 

iour, or the benefits of the atonement to all men, we 
were confronted by the doctrine of a limited atone- 
ment, absolute election, and reprobation in their 
most rigid forms ; and many had drank so deeply 
into this partial and muddy system as to be highly 
offended at grace and salvation being offered to all 
their fellow-beings, although they were careful to 
dream that they were of the elect. And when we 
urged sinners to repent and believe the gospel, 
within the atmosphere of this system, we were 
repulsed by sayings like these: 'If I am to be 
saved, I shall be saved,' ' I wait for the effectual 
call/ etc. When we urged the importance of prac- 
tical piety, and the danger and fatal consequences 
of deviating from the path of religious duty, we 
were frequently attacked 1 and opposed by Laodi- 
cean loiterers, who were charmed with the siren 
song, e Once in grace, always in grace.' And some 
were presumptuous enough to say that, since they 
believed and were baptized, they were safe and 
sure of heaven, do what they would. ' Sin/ said 
one of their teachers, c is not imputed to the be- 
liever : he might commit murder and adultery, and 
be a child of God still.' 

"This was Antinomianism in its most odious 
dress ; and though appalling to pure religion, and 
shocking to reason and common sense, yet such 
gross views were held and propagated, and the 
ignorant and unwary were frequently led away 

Methodism in Tennessee. 479 

with those flesh-pleasing doctrines. There was, 
to be sure, scarcely any thing to mar the peace of 
the two leading sects, who were unitedly and har- 
moniously laboring to carry on this gracious re- 
vival. Scarcely a shade of difference appeared in 
their public administrations, as to doctrine. But 
the curious may ask, 'Did the Methodists dis- 
pense with their peculiar tenets in those days ?' 
To which I would answer, 'They did not' And I 
would remind the reader that I am not now con- 
troverting, but simply narrating, facts — well-at- 
tested facts. 

" Those who knew John Page, John McGee, 
and others who labored in the word and doctrine 
in those days, knew that they were men of too 
much firmness, independence, and candor, to dis- 
pense with any thing that they deemed whole- 
some Scripture truth ; and such, doubtless, they 
esteemed the doctrine of general atonement, full 
salvation, and the danger, not the necessity, of 
apostasy In fact, the Methodists never had, 
have not, and, we hope, never will have, a solitary 
feature in their system of doctrine with w 7 hich 
they would dispense, or over which they would 
cast a veil for accommodation. Wesley taught 
them, Fletcher defended them, Asbury and his 
associates and successors preached them, the 
Book-room publishes them, the preachers circu- 
late them in the Book of Discipline and standard 

480 Methodism in Tennessee. 

works, they invite investigation and fear no 

" We will mention one other circumstance which 
was a little unpleasant and troublesome in those 
days of general excitement and religious interest. 
The spirit of bigoted proselytism was on the alert 
ever and anon insisting on the indispensable neces- 
sity of conforming to a mere external ceremony, 
binding the consciences of men where God had 
not bound them, unchurching all Churches that 
believed and practiced differently, unchristianizing 
and excluding from the communion of saints and 
from the kingdom of heaven all who did not sub- 
mit to the mere circumstances or external mode 
of a particular ordinance. By this means the 
simple were turned aside ; the ignorant and sin- 
cere were perplexed, confused, and often injured ; 
disunion and prejudice were often the result ; nar- 
rowness of spirit, illiberality, and intolerance took 
the place of Christian charity and good-will to 
man. Under these circumstances, it became nec- 
essary, in order to guard our flocks, to contend 
for a liberal, scriptural, rational faith, and to do 
this in the spirit of the gospel. To inform, instruct, 
and build up the young disciples, and to guard 
against error and delusion, was a work of no small 
importance, and required much wisdom, patience, 
prudence, and perseverance. A close walk with 
God, to be deeply imbued with the Holy Spirit, 

Methodism in Tennessee. 481 

and a thorough acquaintance with the Holy Scrip- 
tures, were then, as they always are, indispen- 
sable qualifications in the Christian pastor : learn- 
ing and talents, with these, are of great value to 
the Church ; but, without them, talents and learn- 
ing would be an empty sound, and the flock would 
dwindle and perish for lack of spiritual food. 

" We may form some idea of the prosperous 
state of the work of God on the Cumberland Dis- 
trict, of which we have been speaking, by advert- 
ing to the Minutes of Conference. The number 
of Church-members returned in October, 1803, 
was 1,050; the return in October. 1804, was 
1,762— showing an increase of 712. The return 
in October, 1805, was 2,893— showing an increase 
of 1,131 ; and in these two years there was a net 
increase in the Western Conference of 3,675 mem- 
bers. Considering the newness of the country, 
the feebleness of the traveling ministry — in point 
of numbers, age, and experience — this was aston- 
ishing success. It was the Lord's doings — to him 
be all the glory 

" The Western Conference convened at Mount 
Gerizim, Harrison county, Kentucky, October, 
1804. Bishop Asbury failed to attend, by reason 
of affliction. The Rev. Wm. McKendree, who then 
presided in the Kentucky District, was elected 
President. From this Conference the writer of 
these sketches returned to Cumberland District, 

482 Methodism in Tennessee. 

and to Williamson county, where he then had a 
little family But such was the extent of the 
District, and such the pressing demand for labor 
in the Lord's vineyard, that there was but little 
time to rest or loiter. After several smaller ex- 
cursions, he set out to attend the quarterly-meet- 
ings, the first of which was near Hartford, above 
the mouth of Green River. Late in December, 
after traveling from sunrise along a dreary, lone- 
some road, where even log -cabins were few and 
far between, he crossed Green River in the after- 
noon — had then to travel fifteen or twenty miles 
along a small pathway, where no human being 
resided. Night approached \ he lost the path ; it 
was a cold but moonlight night ; he aimed to pur- 
sue his course, but soon found his progress im- 
peded by swamps and briers ; became bewildered, 
and chilled and benumbed with the cold, and 
thought for. a time his case a hopeless one ; but, 
thanks to a gracious Providence, by using efforts 
to keep up warmth, and persevering in traveling, 
he got to a cabin where there was fire, about two 
o'clock in the morning. Having warmed and 
rested till daylight, he pursued his journey, and 
reached his appointment on Saturday, in time to 
meet the expectations of the people, having re- 
ceived no nourishment from the day before, at 

: y : 

" This indeed was trying to a constitution al- 


Methodism in Tennessee. 483 

dy much impaired by affliction in the lowlands 
of Virginia, and by much travel and labor; how- 
ever, the storm had passed over. He met his 
persevering friend, Jesse Walker.. We had a good 
quarterly-meeting. The work of God was pros- 
pering in this new circuit, and all was well. We 
reckoned these as but light afflictions when com- 
pared with the great interests of the Church, the 
salvation of souls, and that eternal weight of glory 
in prospect." 

Anthony Houston, who filled a large space in 
the Church in his day, preached the gospel in Vir- 
ginia, Ohio, Mississippi, and Kentucky, and located 
in 1809. 

For the facts contained in the following inter- 
esting sketch the author is indebted to the Rev- 
George W Martin, of the Tennessee Conference : 
During this year Thomas Martin was awak- 
ened, and began in earnest the work of his salva- 
tion. He was a native of Virginia — born in 
Washington county, May 24, 1778. His parents, 
George and Elizabeth McFerrin Martin, were 
Presbyterians, and members of the Green Spring 
congregation, on the Holston River, some ten 
miles from Abingdon. They both maintained 
good characters as Christians, and died in hope 
of a better life. George was a patriot in the 
American Revolution, was a brave soldier, and 
was in many of the bloodiest battles of the war. 

484 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Mr. Martin brought his children up in the fear of 
the Lord. Thomas was dedicated to God in holy 
baptism, and was taught the Catechisms of the 
Church ; and though his mother died when he 
was an infant, his religious training was carefully 
guarded, and he observed from his youth the 
forms of religion, yet he was a stranger to the 
new birth. Thus trained, he left his native State 
and removed to Southern Kentucky, where he 
remained for a season, in the neighborhood of the 
Rev Mr. McGready's congregation. He attended 
Mr. McGready's ministry, and heard other preach- 
ers of the Presbyterian Church that might chance 
to come in his way ; but he knew but little of the 
Methodists up to this time, and what he had 
heard was very unfavorable. He was taught to 
regard them as the false prophets of the last days. 
In this state of mind he was found in 1800, at 
the beginning of the great revival. During the 
progress of this work he became acquainted with 
the Methodists, and heard some of their ministers 
preach. The Rev William McKendree, then 
Presiding Elder in the West, was the first. He 
was at a union-meeting when the Rev Mr. Mc- 
Gready, his pastor, and Mr. McKendree both 
preached. Mr. McGready went first, and was 
followed immediately by Mr. McKendree. Mr. 
Martin said he felt sorry for McKendree when he 
learned he was to succeed his pastor, whom he 

Methodism in Tennessee. 485 

regarded as a great preacher. Although he was 
a false teacher — so regarded — yet he was com- 
paratively young, and perhaps inexperienced, and 
would likely be embarrassed. These considera- 
tions excited his pity; but before he had pro- 
ceeded far in the delivery of his sermon, he per- 
ceived that the preacher was a man of giant mind, 
with a warm heart, burning zeal, and apostolic 
eloquence. His sermon made an abiding impres- 
sion on Mr. Martin's mind and heart. 

Mr. Martin, though happily converted, still 
continued a member of the Presbyterian Church, 
and observed strictly the means of grace until 
1804, when he was married to Miss Nancy Car- 
ter, an orphan young lady, living in what was 
afterward known as the Mount Zion neighbor- 
hood, in Robertson county, Tennessee. Miss 
Carter was a member of the Methodist Church. 
She had been led to seek for the pardon of sin by 
a kind word from the Rev Jesse Walker, a Meth- 
odist preacher, who had charge of the circuit em- 
bracing Mount Zion. After his marriage, Mr. 
Martin removed to the neighborhood of the 
church where his wife held her membership. The 
nearest Presbyterian Church was Mr. McGready's. 
This caused him to reflect seriously He said 
within himself, " My young wife, the partner of 
my joys and sorrows, is favored with the means 
of grace, and I am deprived. My elder brother, 

486 Methodism in Tennessee, 

Patrick Martin — the first of his family — has for- 
saken the faith and Church of his fathers, and has 
become a Methodist. What am I to do ?*' With 
painful feelings he visited his pastor, and solicited 
advice. His pastor advised him to take his 
Church-letter, and join the Methodists with his 
wife. He consented, and became a member of 
the Mount Zion Church, with the expressed un- 
derstanding that when a Presbyterian Church was 
organized in the neighborhood, or convenient to 
him, he should have his letter returned, with the 
privilege of going into his own Church without 
any unkind feeling. Soon after his connection 
with the Methodists he was appointed class-leader. 
This was a serious move. He wished to do right, 
and keep a good conscience ; but how could he 
be a Methodist class-leader, and hold to the doc- 
trines of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 
which were as dear to him as a ris;ht hand or a 
right eye ? His position led to many discussions 
between him and members of the Society ; and 
being well-versed in the teachings of his Church, 
and in the Holy Scriptures, he was a formidable 
adversary During this state of things, the Rev 
Benjamin W T oods had an appointment to preach at 
his church. His subject led him to discuss the 
doctrinces of " free grace and free will." He was 
a, man of a clear understanding, and mighty in the 
Scriptures. He painted the doctrine of a limited 

Methodism in Tennessee. 487 

atonement in dark colors, and closed by earnestly 
praying, if there was one in the congregation who 
held the sentiments embraced in this doctrine of 
unconditional election and reprobation, that God 
would have mercy upon him, and show him his 
error. A loud "Amen !" came from every member 
of the Society, while the leader sat in silence in 
their midst. 

Supposing all this was previously arranged, 
and designed for his benefit, his feelings were 
wounded. He, however, sought a private inter- 
view with the preacher, and frankly stated his 
impressions. The preacher was astonished to learn 
that the class -leader entertained and defended 
the views that he had been combating, and then 
entered into a kind and friendly discussion of the 
points involved, assuring him that he was ignorant 
of the facts in his case, and disavowed all person- 
ality. As they talked and reasoned together, Mr. 
Martin's prejudices gave way, and, under the force 
of scriptural argument, he yielded, and became a 
convert to the Arminian view of the doctrine of 
the atonement. 

A change now passed upon his mind, and the 
more he studied and the better he understood the 
doctrines and usages of the Methodists, the more 
cordially he embraced them, and the more firmly 
he adhered to them; yet he always entertained 
kind, feelings toward his mother Church. 

488 Methodism in Tennessee. 

Soon after this event, if not indeed before, he 
felt it to be his duty to warn sinners — to preach 
the gospel of Christ. He finally gained the con- 
sent of his mind, and was licensed first to exhort 
and then to preach. The precise date of his 
license is not remembered, and the documents 
have been mislaid. He was ordained deacon 
by Bishop Asbury, 1815, and was set apart to 
elders' orders by Bishop Boberts in 1820. 

Mr. Martin, though often urged, never con- 
nected himself with the traveling ministry, be- 
cause he had an afflicted wife and a helpless family; 
but in a local sphere his labors were abundant, and 
were always in demand. He visited the sick and 
preached many funeral-sermons, and was always 
ready for every good work. As a preacher, his 
views of the plan of salvation were clear and cor- 
rect, and he well understood the economy of 
Methodism. He always cherished kindly feelings 
toward all Christians, but was a firm Methodist in 
doctrine and discipline. 

He reared eight children — George W., Isaac, 
Patrick, Elizabeth, Catherine, Thomas, Isabella, 
and Martha. These all became members of the 
Methodist Church, and six of the eight have died 
in full hope of immortality Two — George and 
Catherine — remain on this side the flood, but are 
walking in the way their father trod, followed by 
their families. George W is a member of the 

Methodism in Tennessee. 489 

Tennessee Conference, and has been a preacher of 
the gospel for forty years. 

As a Christian, Mr. Martin was the same at 
home and abroad, always walking in the way of 
God's commandments. His family altar was 
never thrown down or neglected, but evening 
and morning the incense of prayer and praise 
went up before the Lord. He taught his children 
by precept and example, and the result we see. 
He was proverbial for his honesty and punctual- 
ity, and when he died, owed no man any thing 
but love. He died August 30, 1855, after serving 
the Church and generation as preacher of the gos- 
pel for about fifty years. During this whole time 
he preached once a month at Mount Zion, unless 
called away by some special occasion. 

His wife, Mrs. Nancy Martin, w T as a child of 
affliction but deep piety She carried her chil- 
dren with her into the closet, and when her hus- 
band was absent, she was punctual in keeping up 
family prayer. Long since she rested from her 
labors, but her works follow her. Here we see 
the fruit of one kind word ; it was blessed of God, 
and brought a whole family into the Church, and 
placed several ministers on the walls of Zion. 
Truly, " A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold 
in pictures of silver." 

Mount Zion Church was formed in 1798, and the 
first house of worship was erected in 1804. It 

490 Methodism m Tennessee. 

has been Mount Zion Society, Bed River Circuit, 
ever since, with the exception of one year, when 
it was called Springfield Circuit. From the most 
authentic information, the society was organized 
by Jesse Walker, who lived, while in this- charge, 
a few hundred yards from the church. Some of 
the first members were, Patrick Martin and wife, 
Samuel Crockett and wife, William Carter and 
wife, Samuel Hollis and wife, Peter Browner and 
wife, and Nancy Martin, wife of the Rev Thomas 

Many of the fathers of the Church preached 
there, among whom may be mentioned Jesse 
Walker, Bishop McKendree, Ralph Lotspiech, 
Learner Blackman, Fred. Stier, Isaac McCown, 
Isaac Lindsey, Jfemej^Axley? Marcus Lindsey,- 
John Johnson,. Charles Holliday, Bishop Thomas 
A. Morris, George McNelly, itinerants; among 
the local preachers we mention, in addition to 
Thomas Martin, A. Bellamy, Thomas Spence, 
Thomas and James Gunn, Valentine Cook, James 
McKendree, Patrick Martin, John Gossett, and 
David R. Slatter. 

This Church, that was organized seventy-one 
years since, still continues to be a stronghold of 
Methodism. Many preachers took their start at 
Mount Zion, among whom we mention the Rev. 
George W and Garrett Martin. It is said that 
the late Dr. Drake, of Mississippi, was licensed* ta 

Methodism in Tennessee. 491 

preach at this Church. There is one lady now of 
this Church — Mrs. Sarah Farmer — who has been 
a member sixty-seven years. The Church now 
numbers eighty members, besides the hundreds 
who have gone to join the saints in heaven. 

Reference has already been made to the Rev 
Jacob Young, who was one of the early Methodist 
preachers in Tennessee. Mr. Young's father was 
a Marylander,* and his mother a Virginian, but 
Jacob' was born in Pennsylvania, about twenty 
miles below Pittsburgh. When he was allout 
fiMen years of age, his father removed to Ken- 
tucky : here he was awakened and converted 
under the preaching of John Page, who was then 
in his prime, and, Mr. Young says, " acknowl- 
edged by all to be of the first order of talents." 
Mr. Young soon entered the ministry, and, as we 
have seen, attended the Conference this year at 
Mount Gerizim, and was appointed to the Wilder- 
ness, which lay between Powell's Valley and the 
Crab Orchard, Kentucky The Minutes say he 
was sent to the Wilderness, and Joab Watson to 
Clinch Circuit. The facts- are these : Mr! Young 
was sent to Clinch Circuit, and was to change 
during the year with Mr. Watson. Mr. Watson 
came from North Carolina, according to the ar- 
rangement of Bishop Asbury ; but Mr. John Wat- 
son, who was the Presiding Elder, would not con- 
sent, in the absence of the Bishop; for Mr. Yotmg 

492 Methodism in Tennessee. 

to leave the Clinch Circuit, so both Young and 
Joab Watson continued on his circuit. This was 
ever afterward regretted by Mr. Young. He 
had, to be sure, a prosperous year, and he and 
his colleague were firmly united in affection and 
in labor ; but it w T as in contravention of the order 
of the Bishop, and that he thought was wrong. 
Ms. Yqung, as will be seen in the future pages of 
this work, was an active and successful minister 
of the gospel. He lived till an advanced age — 
over four-score years — and died in peace in the 
State of Ohio. He was honored with the degree 
of D.D., because of his attainments, literary and 
biblical. Bishop T. A. Morris, who wrote the 
Introduction to Dr. Young's Autobiography, says, 
" I became well acquainted with Dr. Young when 
he was probably at the maximum of his physical 
and mental vigor. He was my Presiding Elder 
from the spring of 1816 to the autumn of 1819. 
He was then regarded as one of our strongest men 
in the work. Multitudes of people attended his 
quarterly-meetings, expecting to witness displays 
of awakening power and saving mercy, and were 
seldom disappointed." Dr. Young gives the fol- 
lowing interesting account of his work this year 
on the Clinch Circuit and contiguous fields of 
labor : 

" Conference over, and my appointment given, 
I bade my loving friends a long farewell, and 

Methodism in Tennessee. 4y5 

started in company with Samuel Douthet. I tar- 
ried all night in Lexington ; tried to preach, but 
was bound in spirit. This was the first real dark 
time I had for two years. My success at the 
Conference had doubtless lifted me up a little, and 
the Lord had measurably withdrawn to let me 
know my own weakness. 

"Next day found me at Richmond, Madison 
county, Kentucky I lodged in the same house 
with Bishop Asbury. Early we started for the 
Crab Orchard wilderness, lying between Kentucky 
River and Powell's Valley The Bishop was in 
feeble health. Riding on horseback, in this hilly 
country, fatigued him very much. He often 
wished to change awhile and walk, but could not 
walk up hill. When he came to the top of a high 
hill, he would dismount, give me his horse to lead, 
and walk down, till we came to our stopping-place 
in the evening. Here we fell in with very rough 
company- There was plenty of whisky, and 
persons drinking it freely, taking the name of 
God in vain, and playing cards. The landlord, a 
low-bred man, had goodness enough to give us a 
room to ourselves, where we felt rather more 
comfortable. An old Englishman came into our 
room to talk with the Bishop on religion. He 
had a great deal to say which did not interest the 
Bishop much. He had long been seeking religion, 
but never found it ; but he said he had succeeded 

AM Methodism m Termezstt. 

in one thing— -a certain Baptist preached had 
broken him off from swearing profanely. He 
finally left us and went into the gambling-room, 
where he soon began to talk very loud and sWear 
one oath after another. The Bishop recognized 
his voice, arose, opened the door, and looked in. 
'You told me a certain Baptist preacher had 
broken you off from profane swearing, but I find 
you can lie and swear both.' They all quailed 
under his reproof. The Englishman came to him, 
crying. 'Ah, Bishop Asbury, pardon me if you 
please, sir r The Bishop told him he had better 
ask pardon of his Grod — gave him suitable instruc- 
tion, and left him. The house became very quiet 
We had an early supper, which, being ended, the 
Bishop called them all into our room, read a chap- 
ter, gave them a short lecture, sung a hymnj ancb 
prayed. We then went to bed, rested well 
through the night, rose early, and began to pre? 
pare for our journey I The Bishop continued long 
on his knees, and, just as he rose from his de- 
votions, the landlord came 1 in with a bottle and 
glass. ' Mr. Asbury, will yon take a little whisky 
this morning ?' The Bishop replied in the nega> 
the, adding, -' I make no use of the devil's tea:' 
We mounted our horses, rode hard all day, and in 
the evening we stopped with a gentleman by the 
name of Ballinger. He was really a ; gentleman; 
and-hir wife was a lady 

Methodism in Tennessee. 4$5 

< ; The landlord expressed considerable anxiety 
to have a circuit formed. The Bishop asked me 
if I would be willing to undertake the task. I 
told him I was at his service. He then replied to 
Ballinger, *TTe will try to accommodate you.' 
Each one was to do his part. The Bishop was 
to supply my place with a preacher, in the spring, 
on Clinch Circuit. I was to come on and form 
the circuit as best I could by the providence of 
God. and Ballinger's house was to be the nucleus 
around which I was to arrange my plan of oper- 

•• We stayed all night with the kind family, and 
breakfasted with them next morning. The Bishop 
read the word of God to us, lectured on the same, 
prayed for them, and we departed in good spirits. 
A few hours' ride brought us to C umberla n d Ga p. 
Here we parted — the Bishop and Brother Douthet 
took the Xorth Carolina road, I turned up Powell's 
Valley The Bishop got off his horse while he 
gave me the parting blessing. His last words 
were. 'Pray as often as you eat and sleep, and 
you will do well; 

" I now traveled on alone, and in the evening 
put up at a public-house. The landlord appeared 
like a decent man : but I soon found his house 
was a place of dancing, gambling:, and drinking. I 
concluded to make the best I could of mv circum- 
stances — became quite cheerful, talked fluently, 

496 Methodism in' Tennessee. 

told him my business, and asked him what he 
thought of my prospects through the country where 
I was going. He gave me all the encourage- 
ment he could, and some good advice. Although 
he was not religious, he was a man of good sense. 
He brought his large Bible and proposed worship 
before I retired to rest. I slept but little that 

" The inhabitants of this valley were, for the 
most part, desperate characters. They dressed 
alike and looked alike, so that if a person of ob- 
servation had met one of tbem in New York, he 
would have known they belonged to Powell's 
Valley They wore short hunting-shirts, leather 
belt round the waist, shot-pouch, powder-horn, 
rifle-gun, and had a big dog following closely be- 
hind. It is said they watched the road leading 
from old Virginia to Kentucky, and when they 
saw emigrants going on to the above-named place, 
they changed their costume, dressed like Indians, 
hy a near route through the mountains passed 
ahead of the travelers, watched them till they 
pitched their tents and were all asleep, then fell 
upon them, murdered them, and took their money 

" I will here give one case which will illustrate 
all the rest. There was a spot in that wilderness 
known by the name of Hazel Patch, where travel- 
ers stopped at night. At a certain time — date I 
do not recollect — a large company of wealthy 

Methodism in Tennessee. 497 

Virginians started for Kentucky to buy and take 
up lands. They were well armed and equipped 
o defend themselves, put up at the place, pitched 
their tents, placed their sentinels, and went to 
sleep. Some time in the night they were at- 
tacked by a party of — as they thought — Indians : 
it was generally thought they were Powell's Val- 
ley men. The Virginians defended themselves in 
a masterly manner. It was said the conflict was 
long and severe ; but the Virginians were all 
killed with the exception of one, and many thought 
he turned traitor. Two facts led the public mind 
to this conclusion : First, he was very poor when 
he joined the company ; after that he became 
immensely wealthy^ buying farm after farm. 
Secondly, he could give no rational account of 
his escape. He said, when the Indians had killed 
all the rest, he walked off quietly, and they let him 

'• I felt as a stranger in a strange land. I had 
to travel one hundred miles among these people, 
and I looked back with mournful joy and pleasant 
grief on the good circuit I had left behind. 

W I had some imperfect knowledge of what I 
had passed through, but what lay before me I 
knew not. I arose very early, and before day- 
light I was on my way : ate but little, slept but 
little, till I arrived at my circuit, on Saturday, 
about noon. 

498 Methodism in Tennessee. 

" I came into a settlement called Rye Cove, 
which took its name from the abundance of wild 
rye growing there. I put up with Esquire Gib- 
son, a man of intelligence, piety, and sociability 
Looking over my plan, I found my circuit to be 
an odd-shaped concern, lying between two moun- 
tains — Clinch and Cumberland — upward of a hun- 
dred and fifty miles in length, and not more than 
twenty-five in breadth. 

" This Clinch Mountain was a curiosity : first, 
it was very long, taking its rise near the ridge 
that divides Holston and New Rivers, and run- 
ning all the way till it came near to a junction of 
Holston and Tennessee ; in the second place, it is 
an exceedingly high mountain, distinguished from 
all others by a great number of sharp peaks. 
Although it lies in a southern climate, it is a very 
cold mountain. I have often seen its summit cov- 
ered with snow, while vegetation was flourishing 
at its base. On my plan of this circuit I had 
about thirty appointments. From Rye Cove I 
went to Stallard's, on the ford of C linch River . 
Here I found trouble on hand. Two local preach- 
ers had been expelled, and were making fearful 
inroads in the society I preached, and regulated 
the concerns of the Church in the best manner I 
could, and left them in the hands of their Maker, 
and, turning my course to the south, came to 
Moccasin Grap. This was a natural curiosity — a 

Methodism in Temwsme. 499 

forge creek) running directly through the high 
mountain I have just described. The source of 
the creek was on the north side of the mountain, 
which run parallel to the Clinch River for some 
milesj then turned short to the south, and emptied 
into Holston River. 

" Here I found a large society of Methodists, 
the most of them of the name of Lynn. They 


lived in very small houses, cultivated poor land, 
burned pine-knots, and lived poor. They were 
very pleasant, and I enjoyed myself among them. 

" I shall satisfy myself with giving a mere out- 
line of this circuit. I made my way, as best I 
could, tn RnpjpAll nmirt-hrma/> ; preaching in several 
neighborhoods as I passed along; found many 
pleasant people, and had delightful meetings. 
Within about five miles of the court-house, I 
found a large society of intelligent and pious peo^ 
pie; I could have taken up my abode here with 
great pleasure, but duty called me, and I must go. 
I found no society at the court-house, and very 
few people lived there. 

" From this place I went to Henry Dickinson's, 
Who was a distinguished man in that country I 
became acquainted with the Ellingtons, one of 
whom afterward became a traveling preacher; 
traveled a few years, married in Fairfield county, 
Ohio, near Rushville; then emigrated to Georgia, 
Where her ended his days. 

500 Methodism in Tennessee. 

" From Dickinson's I rode to a place called 
Elk Garden, where I found a very large society 
of Methodists of the very best sort. Mr. Price, 
the principal man, was dead before I went there, 
but his widow and a large family of sons and 
daughters remained, and I could form some idea 
what kind of a man he was — a self-taught, prac- 
tical man ; and, after all that is said about refine- 
ment and education, these are the most efficient 
men in the world. 

"Another distinguished man was Mr. Browning. 
He had a large family, and trained them well. He 
was a man of considerable wealth, and his influ- 
ence was great both in State and Church affairs. 
He was a strong, practical, matter-of-fact man. I 
will give one illustration of his character: A 
Lawyer Smith was in the habit of putting up with 
him in going to and from Russell Court-house. 
This Smith was a man of great wit, and very 
fond of displaying it by criticising religious peo- 
ple, especially by making sarcastic remarks on 
the sermons of the ministers and prayers of the 
faithful. On one occasion he was teasing Brown- 
ins: about his unskillful ministers and ignorant 
members. Browning having borne his sallies of 
mirth and humor, as he thought, at least, long 
enough, determined to test Smith's skill in preach- 
ing and praying. One day, in friendly conver- 
sation, he said, 'Mr. Smith, you appear to be 

Methodism in Tennessee. 501 

well skilled in theology : I suppose if you were 
to attempt to preach or pray, we should have 
something like perfection.' Smith replied, 'He 
would be very sorry if he could not perform a 
great deal better than some he had heard.' Brown- 
ing said no more. Smith was full of hilarity, not 
knowing the trial awaiting him. Supper over, the 
family were pleasantly situated in the parlor. The 
old gentleman laid his Bible on the stand, and 
with a great deal of solemnity said, ' Squire 
Smith, will you attend to prayers ?' Smith looked 
as if he was ' sent for and could not go.' It was 
as much as the young people could do to com- 
mand their risibles. There sat the dignified lawyer 
with his head in his hands. The family waited a 
long time. The Squire made no move toward 
the stand, and, I suppose, Browning was too full 
of mischief to pray himself. A poor man, very 
shabby in his appearance, was working for Brown- 
ing, and Mr. Browning said, ' Brother Reeve, will 
you go to prayer ?' Reeve dropped on his knees. 
He was a man of deep piety, and gifted. The 
force of his prayer was felt by all, but by Smith 
more than any other. He retired to rest, but 
rose early, and before prayer-time made his escape. 
He told some of his friends at the court-house that 
he never had heard such a prayer. 

" I spent several days here, and moved toward 
Tazewell Court-house. I preached several times 

502 Methodism m Tennessee. 

on my way, among the Garrisons, Higginbothams, 
and Youngs. They received me as the Lord's 
messenger. Mr. Whitten lived here, who after- 
ward became the father-in-law of the Rev James 
Quinn. He was quite a gentlemanly man in his 
appearance and manners. He invited me to go 
home with him, and, when I reached the house, I 
was surprised to find he had a large family, for I 
thought him but a youth. His family was one of 
the most pleasant I ever met with. He was 
reared near the city of Baltimore, and emigrated 
to this country at an early day He became a 
very extensive land-holder, and, entering largely 
into the stock business, accumulated much wealth. 
This settlement was near Clinch River. The 
neighborhood was made principally of the two 
families, Whitten and Ligsel. They were pleasant 
people, and nearly all became Methodists. Here 
Heaven smiled upon me. I was strongly solicited 
to give up traveling, and settle down. My natural 
inclination led me to comply. I suppose I would 
have secured a great amount of earthly happiness, 
but the providence of God and the dictates of 
the Holy Ghost suffered me to assume no such re- 

"I passed over the dividing ridge between the 
waters of the Tennessee and the Ohio. I went 
down a stream called Blue Stone, formed several 
societies, and saw some happv clays. I recrossed 

Methodism in Tennessee. 503 

the dividing ridge, went down the valley of Clinch 
about a hundred miles, preaching in a great many- 
places as I went along, night and day, till I came 
to my starting-place, Rye Cove. I went up this 
valley in the same manner as described before. 
When I came to Mr. Whitten's, my quarterly- 
meeting came on. I met with my Presiding 
Elder, Rev John Watson, Rev. Thomas Milligan, 
and Dr. Jephthah Moore. 

" These were all distinguished men. Watson 
was not a great preacher, but was an excellent 
Church-officer, possessing a great amount of sanc- 
tified wit, and he knew how to use it to ad- 
vantage. Milligan was a man of strong mind, 
hut lacked cultivation — notwithstanding, he was 
an able minister of the New Testament. Moore 
was truly a great man, and an eloquent pulpit 
orator. He entered the ministry in early life, 
and was one of the first colleagues of Thomas 
Scott, of Chillicothe. He traveled a few years 
with great success, then located, and went into 
the practice of physic. He lived long, and, not- 
withstanding all that the Lord had done for him, 
his sun went down partially under a cloud. When 
a man is divinely called and put into the minis- 
try, it is a dangerous thing for him to leave the 
Lord's work to accumulate riches or worldly 

" Brother Watson preached on Saturday morn- 

504 Methodism in Tennessee. 

ing; Brother Milligan on Saturday night; Dr. 
Moore on Sabbath morning, at eleven o'clock. 
They all had great freedom of speech in preach- 
ing the word of the Lord. Our Quarterly Con- 
ference was pleasant : a delightful love-feast after 
the eleven o'clock services. They left me alone 
to manage the meeting as well as I could. The 
Lord was with us in the outpouring of his Spirit, 
and I expect to see the fruits of that quarterly- 
meeting in the day of eternity. I performed four 
rounds on this lovely circuit, and these were among 
the happiest months of my long life. I loved the 
people, and they loved me. God gave me souls 
for my hire, and added seals to my ministry " 

The author has the pleasure of saying that 
Powell's Valley, lying partly in Virginia and 
partly in Tennessee, is one of the most beautiful 
and fertile valleys in all the South-west. The 
inhabitants are celebrated for their intelligence 
and high-toned morality. The Methodists are 
very numerous — the leading Church in the valley 
There are three circuits covering this " fairy-land,'' 
the membership numbering hundreds. 

About the year 1804 Peter Cartwright com- 
menced preaching, and, though still living, it is 
proper that reference should be made to him in 
these pages. He is, in several respects, an extra- 
ordinary man. He was born (September, 1785) 
in Amherst county, Virginia. His parents re- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 505 

moved while he was young to Kentucky- They 
were poor and obscure. From his own account, 
given in his published Autobiography, he was wild 
and reckless in his youth. He was, however, 
through the instrumentality of the Methodists, 
converted about the time he came to years of 
manhood, and soon afterward commenced exhort- 
ing and preaching. He entered the Western Con- 
ference in the 1 year 1804, and still continues in 
the traveling connection, having been a preacher, 
at least sixty-five years. He had in his youth 
good native talent, and, being a man of close ob- 
servation and considerable application, he has at- 
tained to eminence in the Church — or, at least, he 
has gained much notoriety He possesses great 
humor, and has generally been successful in de- 
bate. His labor in his early years in the ministry 
was a success. He devoted much of his strength 
and manhood to Kentucky and Tennessee, and at 
a later period he removed to Illinois, where he 
still resides in old age. He has been inconsistent 
in his policy; and in the" contest between the 
North and the South he has displayed much bit- 
terness and a degree of intolerance that one might 
not have expected, considering his native place 
and early surroundings. Indeed, Mr. Cartwright 
never seemed to have had any settled views on 
the subject of slavery In his early ministry, w<e 
have proof of his antislavery sentiments ; in his 

506 Methodism in Tennessee. 

advanced life he was very bitter toward slave- 
holders, and yet always disclaimed being an aboli- 
tionist. The author remembers well his first in- 
terview with Mr. Cartwright. It was at the 
General Conference in Cincinnati, in the year 
1836. He had heard all his life-long of Peter 
Cartwright — his eccentricities, his wit, his humor, 
his fighting propensities, and his physical courage. 
He w r as anxious to see him. When the Southern 
delegates held a meeting to agree upon some 
Southern man whom they should nominate and 
vote for as Bishop, Mr. Cartwright met with 
them, though a delegate from Illinois. After an 
interchange of views and opinions by the elder 
members, Mr. Cartwright arose and said in sub- 
stance : 

" Brethren : — You of the South ought to elect, 
and can elect, a Bishop, if you will agree to con- 
centrate on one man. But you are divided among 
yourselves. Some of you are for Early; and 
when I hear his name mentioned, then I am for 
Early. Before the nomination is fairly settled, I 
hear that Capers is the man ; then I am for Ca- 
pers. Having hardly fixed my fangs on Capers, 
some one mentions the name of Winans ; and so 
you are divided. Now, agree among yourselves, 
and I am with you. To me the i nigger' is no 
objection. Why, before I would join the aboli- 
tionists in their crusade against the South, I would 

Methodism in Tennessee. 507 

take the biggest negro I could find, pin his ears 
back, grease him, and swallow him whole." 

Dr. Capers was agreed upon, and the author 
believes that Mr. Cartwright voted for him with 
a hearty good-will. In 1844, and subsequently, 
Mr. Cartwright was very strong in his opposition 
to the South, and to this day utters bitter things 
against those with whom he fraternized and har- 
monized in 1836. But allowance must be made 
for poor human nature. With all his idiosyncra- 
sies and inconsistencies, Mr. Cartwright has long 
labored as a minister of the gospel, and has dis- 
played zeal and energy in the prosecution of his 
work. The author feels tenderly toward this 
aged minister, and, notwithstanding he has been 
the target at which Mr. Cartwright's most poison- 
ous arrows have been directed, he feels inclined to 
throw the mantle of charity over his faults, and 
give him full credit for all his virtues. 

Occasion may require farther allusion to Mr. 
Cartwright in the progress of this work. 

The following extracts, from " Theophilus Ar- 
minius," a writer in the Methodist Magazine of 
1810, will be read with pleasure. It is proper to 
say, however, that he is not always exactly cor- 
rect as to dates, etc. 

"In the year 1786 the Methodist traveling 
connection extended their aid to their societies 
in Kentucky, and sent out two preachers, both 



508 Methodism in Tennessee. 

of whom deserted them in Mr. James O'Kelly's 
schism, which took place shortly after, and took 
off from the Connection a few others. They 
both, however, went to nothing : one died lone; 
since ; the other still lives, a poor backslider.* 
These preachers' places were soon supplied by 
others whose names will be long gratefully re- 
membered. The numbers of preachers increased 
from time to time ; and from this small unpro- 
pitious beginning have grown, first, the Western 
Conference, since erected into the Ohio, the Ten- 
nessee, the Missouri, and the Mississippi Confer- 
ences. These now embrace, exclusively of travel- 
ing preachers, sixty-nine thousand eight hundred 
and fifty-nine members. 

" For nearly twenty years from the first com- 
mencement of the settlement of the country, (from 
the causes, perhaps, before assigned,) there does 
not appear to have been any considerable move- 
ment as it respects general reformation in any of 
the Churches. About the commencement of the 
present century a general revival amongst the 
Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists took 
place. With the Baptists, as a Church, the re- 
vival appeared to be confined pretty much to their 
own people, and in particular congregations. With 

*One of those alluded to, as we have seen, joined the 
Presbyterians ; the other returned, and died in the ministry. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 509 

the exception of one or two congregations, perhaps 
more, they were of the old order of Regular Cal- 
vinistic Baptists. As such they did not continue 
long embodied, but split into various divisions and 
subdivisions. The cause of all these divisions 
may be very easily traced to their source, from 
the suggestions before made. The revival amongst 
the Presbyterians and Methodists commenced in 
the year 1799, and in 1800, in the lower part of 
Kentucky, under two preachers, brothers, one of 
each denomination, who held their meetings to- 
gether in Logan and Christian counties, on the 
waters of Gasper River, and perhaps other places. 
Having thus united in the work, they found them- 
selves straitened in their houses, on account of 
the increase of their congregations. In the sum- 
mer they took to the woods. The people, in order 
to accommodate themselves, carried provisions for 
their families and beasts in their wagons, erected 
tents, and continued some days in the exercises 
of singing, prayer, and preaching. Thus com- 
menced what has since received the appellation 
of camp-meetings — a revival of the Feasts of 
Tabernacles. It is one among the great means 
of grace with which the modern Christian Church 
is blessed : it is every way calculated to spread 
the blessed work, and no marvel that the devil 
should make such sore thrusts at the institution 
at the commencement, but his weapons, hitherto 

510 Methodism in Tennessee. 

turned against them, have failed. These meetings 
are a peculiar "blessing to a people situated as 
those in the West are. At them the minds of the 
people, for clays, are taken off their various tem- 
poral concerns, and their hearts become the tem- 
ples of the great God. It was not for these fa- 
vored people in the remote part of the State to 
have their banquet altogether alone. The work 
continued to revive and spread, and the novelty 
of the meetings excited the curiosity of thou- 

" The Rev- William McKendree, (now Bishop,) 
Presiding Elder of the District, was in the lower 
part of the State about the commencement of the 
revival, and became much engaged in it. In the 
latter part of 1800, or early in 1801, (if my recol- 
lection serves me,) he came up to the center of 
the settlements of the State, and, in many places, 
was the first to bear the tidings of these singular 
meetings, which had so recently commenced, and 
had so greatly attracted the attention of multi- 
tudes. I shall never forget the looks of the people, 
who had assembled in a congregation composed 
mostly of Methodists and Presbyterians, and 
their adherents, when the old gentleman, after 
the conclusion of a very pathetic sermon, having 
been much animated in the work, gave an inter- 
esting statement of the progress of it, from what 
he had seen, and of the meetings before described. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 511 

Whilst he spoke, the very sensations of his soul 
glowed in his countenance. His description of 
them was such as would be vain for me to attempt. 
He described them in their native simplicity : he 
told of the happy conversion of hundreds, how 
the people continued in their exercises of singing, 
praying, and preaching on the ground, surrounded 
by wagons and tents, for days and nights together 
—that many were so affected that they fell to the 
ground like men slain in battle. The piercing 
cries of the penitents and rapture of the healed 
appeared to be brought to our view T , and, what 
was equally encouraging to the faithful, that the 
work, instead of declining, was progressing to the 
interior. After the description given by him, it 
was unnecessarv to exhort the faithful to look for 
the like among themselves. Their hearts had al- 
ready begun to beat in unison with his, whilst 
sinners were generally melted into tears. As for 
my own feelings, though a stranger to religion at 
that time, they will never be forgotten. I felt, 
and I wept, 

'• These meetings began, as the season per- 
mitted, to make their gradual approach toward 
the center of the State. It was trulv wonderful 
to see what an effect their approach made upon 
the minds of the people. Here in the wilderness 
were thousands and tens of thousands, of almost 
every nation; here were thousands hungry for 

512 Methodism in Tennessee. 

the bread of life, and thousands thirsting for the 
waters of salvation. A general move was visible 
in the congregations previously to the arrival of 
these meetings. The devout Christians appeared 
to be filled with hope : their hearts were greatly 
enlarged to pray for the prosperity of Zion. The 
formalists were troubled with very uneasy sensa- 
tions, backsliders became terrified — the wicked, 
in general, were either greatly alarmed or struck 
with solemn awe, whilst curiosity was general, and 
raised to the highest degree to see into these 
strange things. Indeed, such was the commotion 
that every circle of the community appeared to 
have their whole attention arrested. Many were 
the conjectures respecting these meetings. 

" Things, however, did not continue long to keep 
the attention of the people in suspense. The 
camp - meetings began to approach nearer and 
nearer to the center; when one meeting after 
another was soon appointed in succession, and 
the numbers who attended them is almost incred- 
ible to tell. When collected on the ground, and 
whilst the meetings continued, such crowds would 
be passing and repassing, that the roads, paths, 
and woods appeared to be literally strewed with 
people. Whole settlements and neighborhoods 
would appear to be vacated; and such was the 
draft from them, that it was only here and there 
that a solitary house would contain an aged house- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 51 3 

keeper— young and old very generally pressing 
through every" difficulty to see the camp -meet- 
ing. The Presbyterians and Methodists now 
united in them ; hence it was that they took the 
name of General Camp-meetings. This union con- 
tinued until circumstances, hereafter mentioned, 
produced a separation. On the 30th of January 
1801, one writes, giving an account of the work 
as it first appeared : ' The work is still increasing 
in Cumberland. It has overspread the whole 
country It is in Nashville, Barrens, Muddy, 
Gasper, Red Banks, Knoxville, etc. J. M. C 
has been there two months. He says it exceeds 
any thing he ever saw or heard of. Children and 
all seem to be engaged ; but children are the most 
active in the work. When they speak, it appears 
that the Lord sends his Spirit to accompany it 
with power to the hearts of sinners. They all 
seem to be exercised in an extraordinary way : 
lie as though they were dead for some time, with- 
out pulse or breath — some a longer, some a shorter 
time. Some rise with joy triumphant, others cry- 
ing for mercy As soon as they obtain comfort, 
they cry to sinners, exhorting them to come to 
the Lord.' 

" These general camp-meetings not only came 

up to this description, but far exceeded it. Early 

this spring a work broke out in Madison county 

On the 22d day of May, this year, a camp-meet 


514 Methodism in Tennessee. 

ing was held on Cabin Creek. The next general 
camp-meeting was held at Concord, in Bourbon 
county, the last Monday in May, or beginning of 
June, and continued five days and four nights. 
The next general meeting was at Point Pleasant, 
Kentucky ; the next, at Indian Creek, Harrison 
county, began 24th July, and continued about 
five days and nights. The great general camp- 
meeting held at Cane Kidge, seven miles from Paris, 
Bourbon county, began on the 6th day of August, 
and continued a week. This meeting will be par- 
ticularly noticed hereafter. Independent of these 
general meetings, the Methodists had many great 
and glorious meetings unconnected with their 
Presbyterian brethren. Indeed, these meetings, 
in each denomination, were soon spread over the 
country, and this year extended over the Ohio 
River into the North-western Territory, now the 
State of Ohio. 

" Having been raised in this State, the writer, 
then a youth, has many circumstances fresh upon 
his mind with regard to this great work ; but, in 
aid of this narrative, he is disposed to take along- 
whatever he finds that may be correctly given by 
others. 'At first appearance,' says one, 'these 
meetings exhibited nothing to the spectator un- 
acquainted with them but a scene of confusion, 
such as scarce could be put into human language. 
They were generally opened with a sermon, at 

Methodism in Tennessee. ^ 

the close of which there would be an universal 
"L^orne bursting forth into loud ejaculahons 
fpriyer or thanksgiving for the truth; others 
breaking out in emphatical sentences of exhorta- 
tion; others flying to their careless friends, with 
tears of compassion, beseeching them to ton to 
the Lord ; some struck with terror, and hastening 
through the crowd to make their escape, or pull- 
ing away their relations ; others trembling, weep- 
ing, crying out for the Lord Jesus to have mercy 
upon them, fainting and swooning away till every 
appearance of life was gone and the extremities 
of the body assumed the coldness of death ; others 
surrounding them with melodious songs, or fer- 
vent prayers for their happy conversion ; others, 
collecting into circles round this variegated scene, 
contending with arguments for and against the 
work. This scene frequently continued, without 
intermission, for days and nights together.' At 
these meetings many circumstances transpired 
well worth relating, and very interesting ; but it 
would overleap our limits to narrate them. One 
at this time must suffice : 'At Indian Creek a boy, 
from appearance about twelve years of age, retired 
from the stand in time of preaching, under a very 
extraordinary impression ; and having mounted a 
log .at some distance, and raising his voice in a 
very affecting manner, he attracted the main body 
of the people in a very few minutes. "With tears 

516 3fethodism in Tennessee. 

streaming from his eyes, he cried aloud to the 
wicked, warning them of their danger, denouncing 
their certain doom if they persisted in their sins, 
expressing his love to their souls, and desire that 
they would turn to the Lord and be saved. He 
was held up by two men, and spoke for about an 
hour, with that convincing eloquence that could 
be inspired only from above. When his strength 
seemed quite exhausted, and language failed to 
describe the feelings of his soul, he raised his 
hand, and, dropping his handkerchief, wet with 
sweat from his little face, cried out, " Thus, 
sinner, shall you drop into hell, unless you forsake 
your sins and turn to the Lord." At that moment 
some fell like those who are shot in battle, and the 
work spread in a manner which human language 
cannot describe.' T 

The Rev- Learner Blackman, a distinguished 
pioneer, of whom more will be said hereafter, 
gives the following description of one of the fields 
he occupied as a Presiding Elder in the West : 

" It may now be proper to speak of the work 
in the Cumberland country, and of the country 
itself, till a District was formed, which was called 
Cumberland District, in 1803. The soil of Cum- 
berland, in general, is among the richest in the 
world. The climate is soft. It lies principally 
between the latitude of 35° and 37° The first 
settlement was formed in Cumberland by Mr. J. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 517 

Robertson and a few others, in 1779. They grew 
corn in Cumberland that year, and in the Ml 
moved their families to the country This infant 
settlement lived in peace till the spring of 1780, 
but lived without bread. After that many were 
killed by the Indians. In 1781, the Indians were 
so bad that no corn was made except at Eaton's 
Station. The battle at French Lick (the place 
where Nashville now stands) was fought that 
year : six whites were killed, and two or three 
wounded. The Indians, of different nations, con- 
tinued to be very troublesome till the Nickojack 

" Benjamin Ogden was the first Methodist 
preacher that ventured through the wilderness 
to preach to the scattered settlements on Cum- 
berland River, in 1787 He formed a circuit, 
and called it Cumberland Circuit. There was 
but one circuit in Cumberland up to 1802, when 
Red River and Barren Circuits were formed. 
That year Cumberland Circuit lost its name, and 
was called Nashville Circuit. B. Ogden had good 
success, considering the inconvenience under which 
he labored : returned the first year fifty-nine in 
Society David Combs and Barnabas McHenry 
were stationed in Cumberland in 1788. The 
number in Society was increased to two hundred 
and twenty-five. James Haw was stationed in 
Curnjjerbind in 179Q, and continued here several 

018 Methodism in Tennessee,. 

years. It seemed at one time, after the arrival 
of the Methodist preachers in Cumberland, that 
all the people would embrace religion. Many of 
the leading characters became Methodists for a 
season. The work suffered much in this country 
for the want of a regular supply of preachers. 
Cumberland was separated by a wilderness of two 
hundred miles from the Crab Orchard in Ken- 
tucky, or from the settlements on Holston. Both 
ways were infested by Indians. The roads to 
Cumberland and to Kentucky were often stained 
with human blood. On the way to Cumberland, 
from South-west Point, many a poor heart has 
palpitated with dread and fear; yet hundreds of 
families ventured through the wilderness, when 
exposed to the greatest danger by night and by 
day Preachers who ventured, with their lives 
in their hands, to Cumberland were not free from 
danger when they arrived at their place of des- 
tination ; for many of the inhabitants were killed 
from time to time, and for several years the most 
of the inhabitants were forted. The preachers 
rode from fort to fort, and preached the gospel of 
peace. It was often found necessary to guard 
them with men well armed. But in troublesome 
times there were places set apart for the ark of 
the Lord to rest. A holy seed was sown that has 
since produced much holy fruit. 

" Benjamin Ogden preached his first sermon on 

Methodism in Tennessee. 519 

the Sulphur Fork of Red River. Richard Doge 
and Frank Prince were the first persons who 
joined the Methodist Society in Cumberland. At 
that time there were no settlements on the south 
side of Cumberland River, except at French Lick, 
mouth of Stone's River, and Mill Creek. 

"At the first sacrament held by Mr. Haw, and 
the first held among the Methodists, six professed 
to be converted on Sulphur Fork. The same 
year, at the two quarterly-meetings, about thirteen 
professed to be converted. The work spread. 
In the time of Mr. Haw's administration there 
was a glorious work of the Lord on Mill Creek, 
on the south side of Cumberland. Several em- 
braced religion who were killed a few days after 
by the Indians. The merciless savages imbrued 
their hands alike in the blood of the good and the 
bad people of Cumberland. Mr. Mayfield em- 
braced religion, joined the Methodist Society, and 
in three days was killed by the Indians. As 
many as six fell victims to savage cruelty in the 
course of a few months. These were perilous 
times Mr. Williamson succeeded. Mr. Craighead 
was the only Presbyterian preacher stationed in 
Cumberland when the Methodist preachers first 
arrived : there were a few Baptist preachers. 

" In consequence of the frequent depredations 
of the Indians on the settlements of Cumberland, 
the population increased very slow for ten or fif- 

520 Methodism in Tennessee. 

teen years after the first settlements were formed. 
But for about fifteen years past the settlements of 
Cumberland have been rapidly increasing/ 1 ' 

" The inhabitants of Cumberland are a collec- 
tion of people from all the Southern States. Many 
of the first settlers were hardy adventurers— from 
the frontier settlements of Virginia and North 
Carolina — who were not unaccustomed to hear 
the wild beasts of the forest yell and howl; 
neither were they strangers to the war-whoop of 
the savage Indians, for many of their near and 
dear connections had groaned under the toma- 
hawk and scalping-knife, among the high hills and 
mountains of Virginia, before they removed to 
Cumberland. Some had lost fathers, mothers, 
sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters on their way 
through the wilderness, when removing to Cum- 
berland. Their scalps were taken off, and their 
bodies cruelly mangled — cut and hacked in the 
most barbarous manner, till the poor sufferers fell 
asleep in the arms of death, and were left — after 
being stripped of their raiment and plundered of 
all they possessed — to feed the wild beasts. 
People inured to such sufferings did not suffer the 
same inconvenience as many may suppose. 

"It is remarkable, exposed as the traveling 
preachers were while traveling through large cane- 

* " Most of the above account is from Lewis Crane. 

Methodism in Tennessee. 521 

brakes from fort to fort, that not one was killed 
by the Indians, though there were families killed 
about the places where they traveled and preached 
from time to time. The' first settlers, when not 
living in forts, lived in cabins, as they live in the 
frontier settlements at the present day throughout 
the western country They lived much on veni- 
son, bear- meat, and wild turkeys, and ate off 
tables made in the form of benches with four 
legs. Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and 
travelers were all huddled up in one small room, 
where the cooking and domestic business must be 
done. But those disposed to live decently showed 
a disposition to do so, though under the necessity 
of living in smoky cabins ; while many who are 
raised on the frontiers live pretty nearly in the 
same condition from generation to generation. 
They have lived, and they now live, lazy, dirty, 
and in much ignorance of God and of the world 
they live in. But some of the vilest and the worst 
have been radically changed by the gospel : men 
who would do but little more than roam in the 
forest like the Indians, and kill bear and deer — 
too lazy to cultivate a farm, any more than some 
Indians, they grew a little corn and potatoes — 
have become industrious, sober, frugal, economi- 
cal, good citizens, and good Christians. Many 
instances may be found in the western country to 
prove the power of the gospel, and much must be 

522 Methodism in Tennessee. 

ascribed to the extensive influence of the itinerant 
plan — a plan calculated to carry the gospel to the 
poor and to the most remote settlements on this 
continent. Of all plans it is the best to spread 
light and truth among the new settlements of the 
West : it would be some years before new settlers 
got a settled preacher, or preachers sufficient — the 
itinerant plan makes up the deficiency Many 
have died in the faith in Cumberland who will 
praise God through eternity that ever they 
heard the pleasing sound of the gospel by the 

" Great improvements are now making in the 
west end of Tennessee. Common neighborhood 
schools are to be found, about five or six miles 
apart, all through Cumberland. By a special act 
of the Legislature, an academy is to be established 
in every county There is one college, near Nash- 
ville, called Cumberland College. Learning and 
literature begin to flourish, and men of the highest 
talent have emigrated from the Atlantic States to 
West Tennessee. The mass of the people in Ten- 
nessee have more veneration for religion, I think, 
than those of any State through which I have 
traveled. We have but little difficulty, in general, 
to keep, order at our large camp-meetings. Infi- 
delity has not so generally prevailed in this State 
as it has in Kentucky, and many other parts of 
this continent." 

, Methodism in Tennessee. 523 

In reviewing the History of Methodism in Ten- 
nessee, from its introduction into the New Terri- 
tory up to 1804, there is cause for gratitude and 
praise. Holston first appears in the Minutes of 
1783, and the returns show sixty members at the 
end of the year : the work began in Middle Ten- 
nessee—in Cumberland, as the country was then 
called— in 1787, and at the close of the year 
fifty-nine white and four colored members were 
reported; giving a total of one hundred and 
twenty -three white and four colored members. 
In 1804, the Minutes record the numbers as fol- 
lows — viz. : 

Whites. Colored. 

Holston 780 52 

Nolichucky 636 31 

French Broad 648 14 

Clinch 500 53 

Powell's Valley 70 — 

Nashville Circuit 637 87 

Red River 289 11 

Total 3560 248 

Thus in eleven years, from the time that Jeremiah 
Lambert began to preach in the Holston country, 
and seven years from the period that Benjamin 
Ogden raised the banner in Cumberland, the little 
band had increased to three thousand six hundred 
and eighty-five ; and this progress was in the face 
of much opposition and many discouragements. 
The whole membership in America, in 1783, 

524: Methodism in Tennessee. 

numbered 13,740, with 59 preachers ; in 1804, 
there were 113,134 members and 400 preachers. 
Of the 113,134 members, 9,082 whites and 518 
colored were reported from the Western Confer- 

Methodism having been introduced at an early 
day in Tennessee, took deep root, and had grown 
to be a great tree in -the space of a few years. 
Tennessee was the first of the Western or South- 
western States to nurture Methodism, and has, 
therefore, been justly denominated the "mother 
of Conferences." Her sons and daughters, every- 
where in the vast West and South, adorn the 
Church. By Tennessee, it is to be borne in mind 
that the Holston and the Memphis Conferences 
are included, as both these lie mainly in the State 
of Tennessee. The grand success of Methodism 
in Tennessee, under God, was attributable, in a 
measure, to the zeal and ability of the first preach- 
ers. Massie, Lee, Birchett, McIIenry, Burke, 
Wilkerson, Page, McGee, Gwin, McKendree, Gar- 
rett, Blackman, Brooks, Green Hill, and others of 
the same class, were men of giant minds. They 
would have been considered ministers of ability 
in any age, or in any country In the work of 
establishing Christianity in this country, Method- 
ism was not assigned to novices ; on the contrary, 
men of talents and of sound judgment were em- 
ployed— men who understood the plan of salva- 

Methodism in Tennessee. 525 

tion — men who were able to meet the objections 
of infidels and to contend successfully with such 
as caviled at the truths of revelation — men who 
understood Methodist doctrines and Methodist 
economy, and who were able to defend their 
Church against the attacks of its enemies. 

Another cause of the success of Methodism in 
these early clays is found in the fact that the 
preachers had access to the best class of society, 
as well as to the poor and ignorant. The intelli- 
gence and fine pulpit oratory of the early Meth- 
odist preachers commended them to all classes, 
and commanded the respect and reverence of the 
most fastidious and highly cultivated. The pathos 
of Massie and Lee, the logic of McHenry and 
Burke, the polemical power of Page and Garrett, 
the zeal and piety of Walker and Lakin, the unc- 
tion and poetry of Wilkerson and Gwin, the thun- 
der and lightning of McGee and Granade, and the 
fine talents and noble bearing of McKendree and 
Blackman, drew the multitudes to Methodist meet- 
ings, and brought thousands of the best people of 
the land into the Church. And these men of God 
went into the hovels of the poor and sought the 
halt and the blind, the maimed and the distressed, 
preached to them Jesus and the resurrection, and 
won multitudes to the cross of Christ. 

Another, and perhaps the controlling, element 
in the success of the Methodists was found in the 

526 Methodism in Tennessee. 

zeal and earnestness of the preachers, and in the 
evangelical character of the doctrines which they 
proclaimed. The zeal of the pioneer preachers 
knew no limit. They were instant in season and 
out of season. No change of weather or climate, 
no swollen streams or lofty mountains, hindered 
them 5 on they pressed, preaching day and night, 
and praying sinners everywhere to be reconciled 
to God. Poverty was rio barrier ; hard fare was 
not in the way ; they slept in cabins, or camped 
in the open air ; lived on wild meat and bread of 
pounded meal; w r ore threadbare garments, and 
suffered privations of every sort ; yet on and on 
they pressed, counting not their lives dear to 
them, so that they might finish their work with 
joy The heroic age of Methodist preachers, in 
all that appertains to genuine heroism, is not sur- 
passed. The first preachers of the West were 
brave men — men who were not afraid of toil or 
hardship, or suffering or death. 

" The love of Christ their hearts constrained, 
And strengthened their unwearied hands ; 
They spent their sweat, and blood, and pains, 
To cultivate Immanuers lands." 

They had one peculiar advantage, however. 
Their doctrines were popular with the masses 
who were not committed to any particular creed. 
The old doctrines of the Antinomians were becom- 
ing threadbare under a more enlightened state of 

Methodism in Tennessee. 527 

society ; and the more moderate doctrines of un- 
conditional election and reprobation, as h.eld by 
the Presbyterians and many of the Baptists, were 
regarded as akin to real Antinomianism, and un- 
friendly to the growth and prosperity of the 
Church of Christ. No man liked to believe that 
by the foreknowledge of God, and the irrevocable 
decree of the Most High, without reference to 
character or conduct, he was doomed to eternal 
punishment. Every man delighted to entertain 
the opinion that there w r as hope for him. When, 
therefore, a minister came before the multitude 
and proclaimed "free grace," "free salvation," 
that Christ died for every man, and that all might 
be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, 
the proclamation found a ready response in the 
hearts of the people. With this popular theme 
the Methodist preachers went abroad, and they 
were followed by crowds of anxious hearers, and 
their doctrines were received and believed, and 
brought many to Christ. It is true that they met 
very strong opposition among those whose creeds 
were in danger, and who were wedded to their 
Confessions of Faith; but in every controversy 
they gained the victory- It was only necessary 
for the people to understand the doctrines of 
Methodism, and then, if they were not ready to 
embrace them, they were willing that every man 
should be fully persuaded in his own mind. 

528 Methodism in Tennessee. 

The reader should never forget the last con- 
sideration that shall be mentioned in this connec- 
tion. It is this : the success of the first Method- 
ist preachers depended on their faith in Christ, 
and the help of the Holy Ghost. "Lo, lam with 
you" was always before them ; and " Without me 
ye can do nothing" was ever present to their 
minds. A live Christianity makes live ministers 
and live Christians. No Church can prosper 
without a living ministry ; and no ministry can 
give life and energy to a Church or people with- 
out the abiding influence of the Holy Ghost, which 
is promised to every true embassador of Christ. 

The history of the Church in Tennessee, from 
this period forward, is full of interest, and will be 
read and studied by every lover of Christ with 
emotions of pleasure.